Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Smithsonian Researchers Show Amazonian Deforestation Accelerating

Date:
January 15, 2002
Source:
Smithsonian Institution
Summary:
A research team of U.S. and Brazilian scientists has provided compelling evidence that rates of forest destruction in the Brazilian Amazon have accelerated over the last decade. The team, led by William Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, analyzed deforestation estimates produced by Brazil’s National Space Agency that were based on detailed satellite images of the Amazon since 1978.

A research team of U.S. and Brazilian scientists has provided compelling evidence that rates of forest destruction in the Brazilian Amazon have accelerated over the last decade.

The team, led by William Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, analyzed deforestation estimates produced by Brazil’s National Space Agency that were based on detailed satellite images of the Amazon since 1978.

Contrary to the claims of the Brazilian government that threats to Amazonian forests have fallen in recent years because of improved environmental laws and public attitudes, the Smithsonian team asserts that rates of deforestation have risen sharply since 1995.

“Forest destruction from 1995 to 2000 averaged almost two million hectares a year,” said Laurance. “That’s equivalent to seven football field a minute, and it’s comparable to the bad old days in the 1970s and 1980s, when forest loss in the Amazon was catastrophic.”

The research team’s findings are important because the Brazilian government plans to invest over $40 billion in new highways, railroads, hydroelectric reservoirs, power lines, and gas lines in the Amazon over the next few years. About 5000 miles of highways will be paved. The government claims that these projects will have only limited effects on the Amazon.

But the research team disputes these assertions. “There’s no way you can criss-cross the basin with all these giant transportation and energy projects and not have a tremendous impact on the Amazon,” says Laurance. “When you build a new road in the frontier, you almost always initiate large-scale forest invasions by loggers, hunters, and slash-and-burn farmers.”

Although new environmental laws in Brazil are designed to slow forest loss, the research team claims that most laws are rarely enforced. That, in concert with a rapidly growing population and dramatically expanding logging and mining industries, means that threats to Amazonian forests are growing.

“The scariest thing is that many of the highways and infrastructure projects will penetrate right into the pristine heart of the Amazon,” says Laurance. “That could increase forest loss and fragmentation on an unprecedented scale.”

The team’s findings are described in a paper that just appeared in the journal Environmental Conservation (William F. Laurance, Ana K. M. Albernaz, and Carlos Da Costa. 2001. Is deforestation accelerating in the Brazilian Amazon? Environmental Conservation 28:305-311).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Smithsonian Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Smithsonian Institution. "Smithsonian Researchers Show Amazonian Deforestation Accelerating." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 January 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020115075118.htm>.
Smithsonian Institution. (2002, January 15). Smithsonian Researchers Show Amazonian Deforestation Accelerating. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020115075118.htm
Smithsonian Institution. "Smithsonian Researchers Show Amazonian Deforestation Accelerating." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/01/020115075118.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Will Climate Rallies Spur Change?

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) Organizers of the People's Climate March and other rallies taking place in 166 countries hope to move U.N. officials to action ahead of their summit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

Climate Change Rally Held in India Ahead of UN Summit

AFP (Sep. 20, 2014) Some 125 world leaders are expected to commit to action on climate change at a UN summit Tuesday called to inject momentum in struggling efforts to tackle global warming. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins