Roads that once were more confined to the perimeter of the Amazon Forest are now penetrating the heart of the basin, and the many land uses made possible by these roads are destroying the forests.
Two models were developed to assess the future impacts of these trends, one somewhat optimistic and the other less so. Both suggest that the Brazilian Amazon will be drastically altered by current development schemes. Under the less optimistic scenario, less than 5 percent of the land will survive as pristine forest, and 42 percent of the region will either be totally deforested or heavily degraded by the year 2020.
The rate of forest destruction is now almost 5 million acres per year and the highest in the world. As a result of the planned highways and infrastructure projects during the next 20 years, that rate is expected to increase more than 25 percent per year under the least optimistic scenario, and about 14 percent even under the most favorable scenario.
Bergen, a specialist in geographic information systems, remote sensing and spatial ecology, recently spent about a year working in the Amazon as part of a larger project funded by NASA. He and his colleagues studied development patterns in Brazil in recent decades and used information from those trends to project the future impacts of current plans.
Part of whats important about this report is we tried to tie together a lot of different components that often are not considered, but have long term impacts on land use, Bergen said. The ultimate conclusion is that despite the best efforts of many people and hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on conservation, the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has not decreased and in some places in still increasing.
Its not too late to pursue a so
Contact: Scott Bergen
Oregon State University