Half Of Amazon Tree Species Threatened By Deforestation: Study

Posted: Nov 22 2015, 3:49pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News


Half of Amazon Tree Species Threatened by Deforestation: Study
Credit: Hans ter Steege

15,000 tree species in the Amazon could qualify for threatened species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

Clearing of trees is a major problem worldwide even the world’s most diverse forest is affected by it.

New research has found that more than half of tree species in the Amazon are put in jeopardy by deforestation and should be listed as threatened under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

A team of international researchers from 21 countries collected the samples of plants and animals existing in the Amazon and found that more than 15,000 Amazonian tree species are in a vulnerable state.

Tree population in the Amazon has been declining since the 1950s but unfortunately researchers were unable to determine the extent of the damage. Researchers have now made an effort and figured out exactly how many tree species have been lost and from where.

According to current estimations, 36 to 57 percent of tree species should quality for threatened category. The deforestation rate is particularly high in the Brazilian Amazon which consists of 60 percent of the total area of the Amazon and trees here have declined to a staggering 75 percent in the past decade.

“We’re not saying that the situation in the Amazon has suddenly gotten worse for tree species,” said co-author Nigel Pitman of The Field Museum in Chicago. “We’re just offering a new estimate of how tree species have been affected by historical deforestation and how they’ll be affected by forest loss in future.”

These findings have implications on tropical forests around the globe, meaning more than 40,000 tropical tree species could qualify as globally threatened species. 

The research suggests that further degradation can be prevented if Amazonia parks, indigenous territories and reserves are managed properly and countries also are taking appropriate steps in this regard.

"In recent decades Amazon countries have made major strides in expanding parks and strengthening indigenous land rights," Said Hans ter Steege lead author of the study. "And our study shows this has big benefits for biodiversity."

"It's a battle we're going to see play out in our lifetimes. Either we stand up and protect these critical parks and indigenous reserves, or deforestation will erode them until we see large-scale extinctions."

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The Author

Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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