Amazon Rainforest Gravely Imperiled
The Amazon will soon cease to exist as an intact and fully-functional global ecosystem. A new study indicates that half of the Brazilian Amazon has been deforested or severely diminished by modern human activities – figures which are significantly higher than previous approximations. The Brazilian government is constantly taking one step forward and two steps back on rainforest conservation policy. Recently they announced two indigenous rainforest reserves, to this week indicate they want to allow mining on such lands. Fragmentation of the massive Amazonian wilderness will have catastrophic consequences for global and local biodiversity, ecosystems and development potential.
By wilderness, I do not mean areas free of human occupation and use – indeed, Amazonian and most other large, old and diverse forest habitats have coevolved with indigenous societies. However, booming logging, cattle ranching, mining and soy production represent modern, industrial development that is of a very different intensity, extent and total ecological impact. Despite the fact that every habitat has been human impacted to various extents, relatively wild areas do exist, full of large, primary forests that are self-regenerating, biodiverse, and provide countless crucial ecosystem services.
Humanity is making a dire mistake by not giving more attention to rainforest conservation – particularly in remaining large wildlands – which includes poverty alleviation through ecologically sustainable development activities. Rainforests are humanity's habitat. Our and countless other species' destinies will be determined by whether we can learn to again live as one with biologically rich rainforests.