The Amazon Forest: Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?

An international team of researchers using advanced computer models is predicting that at the current rate of development, as much as 40 percent of the Amazon forest as we know it today will be gone by 2050. Britaldo Soares-Filho and his team based at Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais reported in the journal Nature that without more protections, more than 770,000 square miles of rainforest would be lost, with at least 100 native species losing more than half of their habitat.

The researchers also plotted different development scenarios as a way to show how policy changes could have dramatic effects on ecosystems across the vast Amazon River basin. “For the first time, we can examine how individual policies ranging from the paving of highways to the requirement for forest reserves on private properties will influence the future of the world’s largest tropical forest,” Soares-Filho told reporters.

With new checks in place, the researchers believe 73 percent of the original forest could be saved by 2050. They also said that since trees absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide, developed countries should have a keen interest in aiding forest protection work so as to lessen the world’s global warming burden.