Published On: Sun, Aug 25th, 2019

Amazon fires latest: How long will it take for the rainforest to be wiped out completely? | World | News

Brazil’s space research centre Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) published data showing 72,843 fires in the Amazon this year alone. The statistics show an 83 percent increase over the same period of 2018 and is the highest since records began in 2013, sparking a global outcry over the state of the world’s largest rainforest. The fires are predominantly manmade, with the uptick reflecting the president’s relaxed deforestation laws. The Amazon is the biggest rainforest on earth –  without it, life on Earth could be untenable with growing population figures – so what do the raging fires mean for the region?

How long will it take for the rainforest to be wiped out completely?

Within the Amazon rainforest – which covers 1.7 billion acres – an area roughly the size of a football pitch is now being cleared every single minute, according to satellite data.

This is an alarming figure but while scientists are deeply concerned, they say it is not too late.

Yadvinder Malhi, Professor of Ecosystem Science at the University of Oxford, said: “We are at an early stage where we can still do lots to save the forest.”

READ MORE: Amazon fires MAPPED: Shocking images as wildfires ravage rainforest

He said about 80 percent of the Amazon is still intact but warned climate change and deforestation are a dangerous combination.

If 30 to 40 percent of the Amazon was cleared – so, 10 to 20 percent more than at the current level – there would be a danger of changing the forest’s entire climate, he says.

At the current rate, Prof Malhi said: “It would take around 50 to 60 years to deforest 40 percent of the Amazon.

“But in eastern and southern Amazonia it would take only 20-30 years to reach that threshold.”

READ MORE: Amazon forest fires: ‘Unprecedented’ army operation tackle blaze

But while there’s still hope, it’s dwindling. Prof Malhi is worried if the Amazon is hit by fires every few years large parts of it will shift to a degraded, shrubby state.

He said: “Once you’ve had multiple fires there’s the chance of permanent damage.”

But why is it important? The World Wildlife Fund claims the Amazon is “under siege like never before” – and revealed its not just humans who rely on the rainforest.

The WWF wrote: “Despite covering only around one percent of the planet’s surface, the Amazon is home to 10 percent of all the wildlife species we know about – and probably a lot that we don’t know yet.

Our research shows that, on average, a ‘new’ species of animal or plant is being discovered in the Amazon every three days.

“However, tragically, because huge parts of the forest are being destroyed so fast, we may never know all the riches it holds.

“People around the world, as well as locally, depend on the Amazon.

“Not just for food, water, wood and medicines, but to help stabilise the climate, playing a critical role in global and regional carbon and water cycles.”

Is there anything you can do to help?

If you want to try help the Amazon rainforest, a good way to do this is to join a party or campaign group that makes the Amazon a priority.

Through these groups, urge your elected representatives to block trade deals with countries that destroy their forests and to provide more support for countries that expand tree cover.

As consumers, think twice before buying Brazilian beef or other products unless certified by groups such as Rainforest Alliance.

And if you can afford it, you can donate to organisations doing vital work to support the rainforest.

Click here for more information on where you can donate and how you can help.

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