Study: Nearly 10 pct. of Amazon’s native vegetation lost since 1985

Lima, Dec 2 (EFE).- The Amazon rainforest lost 9.7 percent of its native vegetation between 1985 and 2021, a period in which tropical glaciers retreated by 46 percent and mining activity increased by more than 1,100 percent in the planet’s green lung, according to figures from the MapBiomas Amazonia initiative.

Around 50 million hectares (193,000 square miles) had been transformed into anthropic areas (zones with characteristics altered by man) 37 years ago.

But by 2021 that figure had climbed to 125 million hectares, or 15 percent of the entire Amazon territory, which has now lost nearly 10 percent of its original native vegetation.

The magnitude of this destruction, however, varies considerably from one country to the next.

Whereas Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana lost around 1.6 percent of their Amazon forest cover over that 36 year period, the net loss in the case of Brazil was 19 percent.

That data came from Collection 4.0 of MapBiomas Amazonia, an initiative of the Amazonian Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information that contributes to an understanding of the transformations occurring in the Amazon territory through annual mapping of land cover and land use.

MapBiomas Amazonia’s co-creators are non-governmental organizations from the different Amazonian countries – Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname – that make up the network.

During the presentation of the Collection 4.0 tool at the Brazilian Embassy in Lima, Socioenvironmental Institute expert Cicero Cardoso said 99 percent of the 75 million hectares that were transformed into anthropic areas between 1985 and 2021 corresponded to agricultural and forestry development and “only 1 percent were the result of mining and infrastructure.”

In Peru, agricultural use rose 50 percent during the analyzed period, while mining activity was up 70.3 percent.

At the regional level, the Amazon glaciers (Andean ice masses that flow toward the Amazon River drainage basin and are a water source for millions of people) lost 46 percent of their ice, while the area used for mining activity rose from 47,000 hectares to more than 570,000 hectares, an increase of 1,107 percent.

This destruction is “practically irreversible,” according to the study’s authors, who lamented the sharp contrast between the rapidity of soil-use change and the slow pace of climate negotiations.

The general coordinator of MapBiomas Amazonia, Tasso Azevedo, explained that the main goal of the Collection 4.0 tool is to “use science to reveal the territorial transformations with precision, speed and quality and make knowledge about land cover and land use accessible, in order to promote conservation.”

To that end, the initiative offers its data and maps free of charge on a platform that gives users “the true story of each pixel” and allows them to see how soil use in a particular point on the map has evolved over the past 37 years.

For his part, Brazilian Ambassador to Peru Sergio França Danese emphasized during the presentation the importance of cooperation to promote a sense of “shared responsibility” for protecting the Amazon.

“It’s not a question of will but of necessity, and I’d say also of urgency,” the diplomat said, adding that “the first step in changing this reality is understanding it.”

Danese stressed that more than 60 percent of the Amazon is located within the borders of Peru and Brazil and noted that for both countries this vast biome is “a fundamental aspect of their identity.” EFE


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