How Does Amazon Deforestation Affect the Global Climate?
Spanning 6.9 million km2 throughout nine countries, the Amazon Basin might feel like an endless and impenetrable natural sanctuary. It contains the single largest tropical rainforest on the planet, as well as floodplain forests, savannas and rivers, and is home to at least 10% of the world’s known biodiversity —an amount that is always increasing as new species are discovered.
And though these numbers are impressive, and the natural richness of the Amazon is truly unparalleled, it is also in desperate need of protection. Initiatives like Amazon Conservation, a nonprofit with 20 years of experience, are working locally towards environmental sustainability and to keep the Amazon healthy. Or, at least, as healthy as possible considering the damage that has already been done.
The Amazon lost over 17% of its forest cover in the last fifty years because of human activity; and according to WWF, if current deforestation rates continue, 27% of the Amazon will be without trees by 2030.
And the consequences of that loss will not only affect the more than 30 million people and tens of thousands of plant and animal species that thrive there; it will have a direct impact on the world as a whole. WWF and climate experts agree that “there is a clear link between the health of the Amazon and the health of the planet.”
Less trees, more CO2
This is because the Amazon acts as a climate regulator: its rainforests store between 90 to 150 billion metric tons of carbon, and they absorb 2 billion tons of CO2 each year, which helps stabilize local and global climate. If the rainforests are cut down, a significant amount of that carbon will be released into the atmosphere, which could have catastrophic consequences around the world.
Less trees also means the region is getting warmer and the dry season is getting longer. As Time Magazine journalist Mat Sandy writes: “Trees play a crucial role in putting water back into the atmosphere, and their absence means less rainfall and higher temperatures. (...) Current projections by the U.N. show the earth heading for heating of up to 5°C this century (...). If that happens, that forest will be lost forever.”
Well aware of the size of the problem, Amazon Conservation partners with local communities, governments, indigenous groups and scientists to implement and boost on-the-ground conservation solutions that have a lasting impact.