Amazon Rainforest Disappearing
Faster Than Once Thought
BELEM, BRAZIL - Researchers have uncovered some disturbing news about the destruction of Brazil's Amazon rainforest. A new study suggests 15,000 square kilometres are disappearing every year -- twice the annual damage previously believed.
The researchers found that the most common method of gauging deforestation --using satellite photos-- is flawed. Distant satellite don't pick up the loss of trees from selective logging; nor do they notice areas of damage from forest fires, which can appear healthy due to early new growth when viewed from above.
When airplane surveys and on-the-ground interviews were used instead of satellite images, the damage was found to be at least twice the official, satellite-based estimate.
The findings come from the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, and the Institute of Environmental Research in Belem, Brazil. Their study was published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature.
The official Brazilian estimate of the amount of the original rain forest that has been spoiled over the years is 13 per cent. This latest study estimates the number is closer to 16 per cent.
The Amazon rainforest is thought of as the "lungs of the Earth" because it filters so much of the planet's carbon dioxide gases. It is also home to about a third of the world's plant and animal species.