Amazon fears amid emissions threat

A team of over 30 scientists have warned that the Amazon rainforest is coming under ever greater pressure as deforestation and mining impacts the ability to tackle emission levels.

The study led by researcher Luciana Gatti, from the Greenhouse Gas Laboratory of the Space Research Institute (Inpe), has been endorsed by 30 scientists, including specialists in monitoring deforestation and fires from Inpe itself warns the decline in the enforcement of environmental protection laws, such as public policies to control deforestation, in the Amazon in the years 2019 and 2020 resulted in increased carbon emissions.

It added among the main factors are deforestation, biomass burning and forest degradation that have doubled carbon emissions and intensified drought and warming of the rainforest.

It explained the loss of carbon in the period analysed is comparable to the record warming recorded in the years 2015 and 2016, when the El Niño phenomenon occurred and caused an extreme drought in the region.

The researchers performed 742 flights between 2010 and 2020 in small aircraft to collect samples to assess the carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere. With the approximate frequency of twice a month. The database also analysed included information on deforestation and fires in the areas of influence of the regions collected and quantified the actions of control and punishment of deforestation, through the records of illegal deforestation infractions. In addition, the researchers determined which economic activities were responsible for the forest loss. The main ones were the export of raw wood, planted area of soybeans and corn and cattle herd.

According to the study in the years 2019 and 2020 there was an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 89% in 2019 and 122% in 2020, when compared to the period 2010-2018. The confidence index of the data is 95%

According to the researchers, the increase is mainly due to emissions in the western region of the Amazon, a region that has ceased to be a sinkhole to be a source of emissions. The reasons are directly connected to deforestation in the region. A detailed analysis of PRODES data (official information from the Brazilian government on deforestation rates) indicated that the region recorded growth of 82% in deforestation in 2019 and 77% in 2020 compared to the period 2010-2018. In this region there was also an increase of 14% in the area burned in 2019 and 42% in 2020.

“In the year 2020 there was the aggravation of drought in the region during the beginning of the year, with a record of a reduction of 26% in precipitation and an increase of 0.6C in temperatures, which may already be an effect of increased deforestation and emissions,” it added. “However, in this same area the fines issued by the supervisory bodies reduced by 30% and 54%, and the payments of fines reduced by 74% and 89%, in 2019 and 2020 respectively.”

The researchers highlighted that in the period and regions analysed, there were increases of: 80% in deforestation; 42% in burned areas; 693% in the export of raw wood from the Amazon; 68% in the soybean planted area; 58% in the planted area of corn; and 13% of the cattle herd within the Amazon, while declining in the rest of Brazil.