Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Amazon Conservation Policy Working In Brazil, Study Finds

Date:
June 30, 2009
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Contrary to common belief, Brazil's policy of protecting portions of the Amazonian forest from development is capable of buffering the Amazon from climate change, according to a new study.

Tree stumps are all that remain of this portion of the Brazilian Amazon.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Robert Walker

Contrary to common belief, Brazil's policy of protecting portions of the Amazonian forest from development is capable of buffering the Amazon from climate change, according to a new study led by Michigan State University researchers.

Related Articles


The study, to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, contends state and federal governments in Brazil have created a sustainable core of protected areas within the Amazon. And even if the remaining Brazilian Amazon is deforested, the climate will not significantly change – thereby protecting the Amazon's ecosystems.

"The thought has been that if you deforest up to a certain point in the Amazon, the forest will completely lose the ability to recover its tropical vegetation – that you will basically convert it to a desert, especially in the south and southeastern margins of the basin," said Robert Walker, MSU professor of geography and lead researcher on the project.

"But our research shows that if you protect certain areas of the Amazon, as the Brazilian government is currently doing, the forest will not reach a tipping point, which means we can maintain the climate with levels of deforestation beyond which was originally thought."

Roughly the size of the 48 contiguous states, the Amazon River Basin is home to the world's largest rainforest, most of it in Brazil, and is the largest freshwater source on Earth. The Amazon is made up of a wide variety of exotic plant and animal life, including macaws, jaguars, anteaters and anacondas.

In Brazil, the government has set aside about 37 percent of the Amazon basin as protected area, Walker said.

Meanwhile, about 17 percent of the Brazilian Amazon has been deforested since the opening of the basin to development in the mid-1960s, he said.

Critics warn the Amazon is close to a tipping point in which the continued stripping of forests will stem rainfall and turn the tropical region into scrubland. Because trees pull moisture from the ground and release it back into the atmosphere, leading to rainfall, cutting them down threatens this "vegetative recycling" process, Walker said.

Walker and fellow researchers from Brazil and the United States conducted three years of atmospheric computer modeling on the region. Their study assumed the worst-case scenario – that all of the Brazilian Amazon not protected by the government would be deforested.

Even under this scenario, their findings indicate rainfall levels would not decrease to the point of changing the landscape and harming the ecosystems within the protected areas.

"Some people think the tipping point is going to occur at 30 percent to 40 percent deforestation," Walker said. "Our results suggest this is not the case; that you can have quite a bit of deforestation – perhaps up to 60 percent – before you get to the crash point."

The study also assumes the government-protected forests would not be altered beyond their current condition.

The research was supported by a grant from NASA and conducted under the auspices of the Large-scale Biosphere/Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia, an international project led by the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology.

Joining Walker on the research team were Nathan Moore, Cynthia Simmons and Dante Vergara from MSU, and researchers from the University of Florida, Kansas State University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York and the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Brazil.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Amazon Conservation Policy Working In Brazil, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090615171612.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2009, June 30). Amazon Conservation Policy Working In Brazil, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090615171612.htm
Michigan State University. "Amazon Conservation Policy Working In Brazil, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090615171612.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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