Researchers believe that if the process of progressive degradation continues, the biome may reach an irreversible point.
From the Andes to the Atlantic, the Amazon rainforest spreads over 7.5 million km², embracing eight Latin American countries and the territory of French Guiana. By 2018, according to the most recent data, 14% of its forest cover had been lost. Scientists believe that if deforestation reaches between 20% and 25%, the environmental balance in the Amazon ecosystem may reach the so-called tipping point, or inflection point, leaving it irreversibly altered and leading to a progressive degradation process that could have effects on the planet's temperature and alter the rainfall patterns in south-central Brazil.
The result of the elections in October will define how the government will treat the forest. "The next four years will be totally decisive. One of the main messages of the Scientific Panel for the Amazon was the moratorium of deforestation, degradation and fire in the whole southern Amazon, an immediate moratorium, which means that deforestation has to be zero in the whole of the Amazon before 2030, which is the year of the commitment assumed by the countries at COP-26," says climatologist Carlos Nobre, researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies at USP (University of São Paulo) and co-president of the Panel.
The researcher explains that if deforestation and global warming continue at the current pace, the entire southern portion of the Amazon — from the Atlantic and southern Pará, to Acre and Bolivia — may cross the threshold at which the advance of degradation, temperatures and droughts feed back on each other, which is called the inflection point or non-return.
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"The name of non-return is because if you go beyond this point, the forest will degrade and even if we could stop the deforestation, it becomes a process of self-disappearance of the forest and it doesn't stop anymore."
Carlos Nobre, Climatologist and co-president of the Scientific Panel for Amazonia.
Brazil is home to a little more than half of the Amazon and has already lost 18% of the biome's forest cover. The devastation has accelerated, and in 2021, it will reach the highest rates of the last 14 years, surpassing the 2008 rates, with more than 13 thousand km² deforested, an area eight times larger than the city of São Paulo.