Deforestation signs the death sentence for 36 to 57 percent of Amazon trees according to the findings of an international team of researchers.
The collaborative project brought together researchers from different backgrounds aiming to assess the status of the vast variety of tree species dwelling in the Amazon forest. These tropical trees are in serious danger, the extensive research team warns.
Under two different scenarios explored in this study, the researchers found that between 36 and 57 percent of Amazon tree species might go extinct. The common denominator: deforestation. In the least scenario, the number of tree species in the Amazon forest disappearing would push the number of threatened plant species by 22 percent.
The research paper is published in the Science Advances journal and presents a dire perspective for the biodiverse Amazon forest. Combining spatial distribution models with deforestation data (both historical and projected), the researchers looked at 15,000 Amazon tree species. Approximately two thirds of these are deemed rare species.
To uniformly and accurately determine the ‘threatened’ status, the International Union for Conservation of Nature index was brought in the equation. The International Union of Conservation of Nature is the main body attending an up-to-date ‘red list’ listing threatened species on our home planet. However, the work behind invested in creating the red list is far from exhaustive. With few resources to assess hundreds of thousands of species, some are discovered too late.
Nonetheless, according to Nigel Pitman, conservation ecologist with the Field Museum, Chicago and co-author on the research paper, the International Union for Conservation of Nature Paper is a major strength for the recently published research paper.
While 90 percent of the world’s species remain outside the reach of the IUCN red list framework, the new research paper brings a small yet powerful contribution to a better understanding of the conservation efforts to keep the trees in the Amazon forests around for a long time to come.
In light of these observations, the major finding of the paper is that deforestation signs the death sentence for 36 to 57 percent of Amazon trees. The Amazon Tree Diversity Network includes over 1,700 plots marked throughout the Amazon forest. Crunching historic deforestation data until 2013 and projected deforestation data until 2050, the research team reached the worrying conclusion.
While under a business as usual scenario 57 percent of the Amazon trees are expected to be extinct, an increased governance scenario lowers the percentage to 36. Adding the tree species on the IUCN red list would help curb this worrisome trend, along with biodiversity loss and the destruction of one of the largest global carbon sinks.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia