The drivers and impacts of Amazon forest degradation

Lapola, David M., Pinho, Patricia, Barlow, Jos, Aragão, Luiz E. O. C., Berenguer, Erika, Carmenta, Rachel ORCID:, Liddy, Hannah M., Seixas, Hugo, Silva, Camila V. J., Silva-Junior, Celso H. L., Alencar, Ane A. C., Anderson, Liana O., Armenteras, Dolors, Brovkin, Victor, Calders, Kim, Chambers, Jeffrey, Chini, Louise, Costa, Marcos H., Faria, Bruno L., Fearnside, Philip M., Ferreira, Joice, Gatti, Luciana, Gutierrez-Velez, Victor Hugo, Han, Zhangang, Hibbard, Kathleen, Koven, Charles, Lawrence, Peter, Pongratz, Julia, Portela, Bruno T. T., Rounsevell, Mark, Ruane, Alex C., Schaldach, Rüdiger, Silva, Sonaira S. da, Randow, Celso von and Walker, Wayne S. (2023) The drivers and impacts of Amazon forest degradation. Science, 379 (6630). ISSN 0036-8075

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BACKGROUND: Most analyses of land-use and land-cover change in the Amazon forest have focused on the causes and effects of deforestation. However, anthropogenic disturbances cause degradation of the remaining Amazon forest and threaten their future. Among such disturbances, the most important are edge effects (due to deforestation and the resulting habitat fragmentation), timber extraction, fire, and extreme droughts that have been intensified by human-induced climate change. We synthesize knowledge on these disturbances that lead to Amazon forest degradation, including their causes and impacts, possible future extents, and some of the interventions required to curb them. ADVANCES: Analysis of existing data on the extent of fire, edge effects, and timber extraction between 2001 and 2018 reveals that 0.36 ×106 km2 (5.5%) of the Amazon forest is under some form of degradation, which corresponds to 112% of the total area deforested in that period. Adding data on extreme droughts increases the estimate of total degraded area to 2.5 ×106 km2, or 38% of the remaining Amazonian forests. Estimated carbon loss from these forest disturbances ranges from 0.05 to 0.20 Pg C year−1 and is comparable to carbon loss from deforestation (0.06 to 0.21 Pg C year−1). Disturbances can bring about as much biodiversity loss as deforestation itself, and forests degraded by fire and timber extraction can have a 2 to 34% reduction in dry-season evapotranspiration. The underlying drivers of disturbances (e.g., agricultural expansion or demand for timber) generate material benefits for a restricted group of regional and global actors, whereas the burdens permeate across a broad range of scales and social groups ranging from nearby forest dwellers to urban residents of Andean countries. First-order 2050 projections indicate that the four main disturbances will remain a major threat and source of carbon fluxes to the atmosphere, independent of deforestation trajectories. OUTLOOK: Whereas some disturbances such as edge effects can be tackled by curbing deforestation, others, like constraining the increase in extreme droughts, require additional measures, including global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Curbing degradation will also require engaging with the diverse set of actors that promote it, operationalizing effective monitoring of different disturbances, and refining policy frameworks such as REDD+. These will all be supported by rapid and multidisciplinary advances in our socioenvironmental understanding of tropical forest degradation, providing a robust platform on which to co-construct appropriate policies and programs to curb it.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Acknowledgments: This Review was supported by the AIMES (Analysis, Integration and Modeling of the Earth System) Project through the workshop “Degradation of tropical forests: Observations, modeling and socio-environmental implications” held 11 to 13 November 2019 in Manaus, Brazil. D.M.L. was supported through São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP grants 2015/02537-7 and 2020/08940-6 and CNPq (309074/2021-5). J.B. and E.B. were funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NE/S01084X/1). E.B., J.B., and J.F. are grateful to CNPq 441949/2018-5 (Sem-Flama) and 441573/2020-7 (PELD-RAS), as well as to the BNP-Paribas Bioclimate grant. J.F. is also grateful to CNPq 314242/2021-0. L.E.O.C.A. thanks CNPq (314416/2020-0) and the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB). C.H.L.S.-J. was supported by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior – Brasil (CAPES) grant 001 and by the University of Manchester through the project entitled “Forest fragmentation mapping of Amazon and its vulnerable margin Amazon-Cerrado transition forests.” Part of this work was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory under a contract with NASA. L.O.A. was supported by FAPESP (2020/08916-8, 2016/02018-2, 2020/16457-3, 2020/15230-5) and CNPq (441949/2018-5, 409531/2021-9, 314473/2020-3). L.G. was supported by FAPESP (2016/02018-2). C.v.R. thanks CNPq (314780/2020-3). V.H.G.-V. was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through the A.50 Group on Earth Observations Work Program [grant no. 80NSSC18K0339]. P.M.F. was supported by CNPq (312450/2021-4) and FAPESP (2020/08916-8)/Amazonas Research Foundation-FAPEAM (01.02.016301.00289/2021). A.C.R. was supported by the NASA Earth Science Division Climate Impacts Group Funding (509496.
Uncontrolled Keywords: sdg 13 - climate action,sdg 15 - life on land,sdg 3 - good health and well-being,sdg 16 - peace, justice and strong institutions,sdg 10 - reduced inequalities ,/dk/atira/pure/sustainabledevelopmentgoals/climate_action
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Global Development (formerly School of International Development)
University of East Anglia Research Groups/Centres > Theme - ClimateUEA
UEA Research Groups: University of East Anglia Schools > Faculty of Science > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Faculty of Science > Research Centres > Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research
Faculty of Social Sciences > Research Groups > Global Environmental Justice
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2023 12:30
Last Modified: 23 May 2023 19:30
DOI: 10.1126/science.abp8622


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