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Amazon Deforestation reaches 15 years high:

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Why in the news?

As per official data published by National Institute for Space Research’s Probes monitoring system, the area deforested in Amazon Forest of Brazil  reached a 15-year high after a 22% jump from the prior year (2020).

Key highlights:

  • As per data, Brazilian Amazon lost 13235 square kilometres of rainforest in between 2020 to 2021.
  • This figure was the highest since 2006.

Causes of Deforestation :

  • Human settlement: Main causes of deforestation in the Amazon are human settlement and development of the land.
  • Forest fires: forest fires are another reason for deforestation. In 2019 alone, there have been 72,843 fires in Brazil, with the Amazon region accounting for more than half of the fires. 
  • In June 2019, Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon increased by more than 88% as compared to 2018.
  •  In 2018, 17% of the rainforest was already destroyed.
  • Cattle ranchers & Loggers: The current Amazon wildfire is said to have been caused by the cattle ranchers and the loggers who are currently undertaking measures to clear the forest areas and utilize it for economic benefits.

Amazon Rainforest:

  • Amazon rainforest is a moist broadleaf tropical rainforest, located in the Amazon biome. 
  • This region includes territories of nine nations. 
  • Majority of the forest (60 percent) is in Brazil. It is followed by Peru 13% and Colombia 10%. Minor forests are in Bolivia, Guyana, Ecuador, Suriname, French Guiana, and Venezuela. 
  • Amazon represents more than half of Earth’s remaining rainforests. 
  • It comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest, wherein 390 billion individual trees are divided into 16,000 species.
  • They are very wet places, receiving more than 200 cm rainfall per year, either seasonally or throughout the year.
  • Temperatures are uniformly high - between 20°C and 35°C.
  • The Amazon basin is huge with an area covering over 6 million square kilometres, it is nearly twice the size of India.
  • The basin produces about 20% of the world’s flow of freshwater into the oceans.
  • It is rich with numerous mammals, amphibians, reptiles and many other species of flora and fauna.
  • Amazon rainforest helps in filtering and reprocessing in order to reduce the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
  • The Amazon rainforest is a repository of rich biodiversity and produces approximately 20% of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Amazon forest known as lungs of Earth.

What will be the effect of deforestation if it will not stop?

Loss of biodiversity:

  • Some models estimate that by 2050, there will be a rise in the temperature of the Amazon rainforest by 2° to 3°C.
  • As a consequence, there will be a decrease in the rainfall and destruction of wildlife.

Increased Carbon Dioxide Levels:

  • Forests serve as a carbon sink by absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. Since carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, deforestation is a direct contributor to the greenhouse effect and (consequently) global warming.

Forests to semi-arid Savannah:

  • Many researchers predict that deforestation is propelling the Amazon towards a tipping point, beyond which it will gradually transform into a semi-arid savanna

Impact on Water Cycle: 

  • The Amazon rainforest has the ability to produce at least half of the rain it receives. The rain produced by the Amazon travels through the region and even reaches the Andes mountain range.

What are the initiatives taken  by the world:

Germany and Norway:

  • Germany and Norway had ceased the funds to programmes that aim to prevent deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.
  • Both the countries had accused the Brazilian government of not taking the necessary steps to contain the forest fire.
  • In 2016, the Brazilian government pledged to restore 12 hectares of the deforested land.
  • REDD+ initiatives: It is one of the climate change mitigation options in developing countries for conservation of forest carbon stock, sustainable management of forests and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Savanna:

  • Savanna is a vegetation type that grows under hot, seasonally dry climatic conditions and is characterized by an open tree canopy (i.e., scattered trees) above a continuous tall grass understory (the vegetation layer between the forest canopy and the ground).
  • The largest areas of savanna are found in Africa, South America, Australia, India, Myanmar (Burma)–Thailand region in Asia, and Madagascar

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