Growth of the Amazon forest much slower than previously calculated

According to a new study published in Ecology, the regrowth of the Amazonian forest following the acts of deforestation carried out by human beings would be slower than previously calculated. And since the Amazon rainforest itself is crucial to absorb the carbon in the atmosphere, carbon that is increasingly increasing the ongoing global warming, such a study creates some alarm.

The study was written by Fernando Elias of the Federal University of Pará, the first author to collaborate with other Brazilian and British researchers, who explains in the press release: “The region we studied in the Amazon has seen a temperature increase of 0.1 C per decade and tree growth has been lower during periods of drought. With forecasts of increased drought in the future, we need to be cautious about the ability of secondary forests to mitigate climate change. Our findings underline the need for international agreements that minimise the impacts of climate change.”

The researchers monitored the growth of the Amazon rainforest for about two decades and concluded that the so-called secondary forests, i.e. those forests born and developed as a result of deforestation, even after sixty years of regrowth, tended to absorb only 40% of carbon compared to those forests that had never been disturbed by humans. With such an estimate, and if this rate of regrowth continues, it could take more than a century for a deforested area to fully recover.

Furthermore, the researchers themselves found that secondary forests were home to only 56% of living species compared to forests that had always remained undisturbed. Joice Ferreira, a scientist at the Empresa Brasileña de Investigación Agropecuaria (EMBRAPA), believes that these results strongly show that those deforested areas need much more support and much more investment to achieve effective reforestation.

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