Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Devastating human impact on the Amazon rainforest revealed

Date:
May 22, 2014
Source:
Lancaster University
Summary:
The human impact on the Amazon rainforest has been grossly underestimated according to an international team of researchers. They found that selective logging and surface wildfires can result in an annual loss of 54 billion tons of carbon from the Brazilian Amazon, increasing greenhouse gas emissions. This is equivalent to 40% of the yearly carbon loss from deforestation -- when entire forests are chopped down.

Logging. The human impact on the Amazon rainforest has been grossly underestimated according to an international team of researchers from Brazil and the UK, led by Lancaster University.
Credit: Jos Barlow

The human impact on the Amazon rainforest has been grossly underestimated according to an international team of researchers from Brazil and the UK, led by Lancaster University.

They found that selective logging and surface wildfires can result in an annual loss of 54 billion tonnes of carbon from the Brazilian Amazon, increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

This is equivalent to 40% of the yearly carbon loss from deforestation -- when entire forests are chopped down.

This is the largest ever study estimating above and below-ground carbon loss from selective logging and ground level forest fires in the tropics, based on data from 70,000 sampled trees and thousands of soil, litter and dead wood samples from 225 sites in the eastern Brazilian Amazon.

The forest degradation often starts with logging of prized trees such as mahogany and ipe. The felling and removal of these large trees often damages dozens of neighbouring trees.

Once the forest has been logged, the many gaps in the canopy means it becomes much drier due to exposure to the wind and sun, increasing the risk of wildfires spreading inside the forest.

The combination of selective logging and wildfires damages turns primary forests into a thick scrub full of smaller trees and vines, which stores 40% less carbon than undisturbed forests.

So far, climate change policies on the tropics have effectively been focusing on reducing carbon emissions from deforestation only, not accounting for emissions coming from forest degradation.

Lead researcher Dr Erika Berenguer from Lancaster University said: "The impacts of fire and logging in tropical forests have always been largely overlooked by both the scientific community and policy makers who are primarily concerned with deforestation. Yet our results show how these disturbances can severely degrade the forest, with huge amounts of carbon being transferred from plant matter straight into the atmosphere."

The research to be published in Global Change Biology on June 3 was carried out by 10 researchers from 11 universities and research institutions in Brazil and the UK.

The second author, Dr Joice Ferreira from Embrapa in Brazil, said: "Our findings also draw attention to the necessity for Brazil to implement more effective policies for reducing the use of fire in agriculture, as fires can both devastate private property, and escape into surrounding forests causing widespread degradation. Bringing fire and illegal logging under control is key to reaching our national commitment to reducing carbon emissions."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Rika Berenguer, Joice Ferreira, Toby Alan Gardner, Luiz Eduardo Oliveira Cruz Aragão, Plínio Barbosa de Camargo, Carlos Eduardo Cerri, Mariana Durigan, Raimundo Cosme de Oliveira Junior, Ima Célia Guimarães Vieira, Jos Barlow. A Large-Scale Field Assessment of Carbon Stocks in Human-Modified Tropical Forests. Global Change Biology, 2014 (in press) DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12627

Cite This Page:

Lancaster University. "Devastating human impact on the Amazon rainforest revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140522104856.htm>.
Lancaster University. (2014, May 22). Devastating human impact on the Amazon rainforest revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140522104856.htm
Lancaster University. "Devastating human impact on the Amazon rainforest revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140522104856.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, September 21, 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