How much of The Amazon has been explored? What is this?

How much of The Amazon has been explored? The truth sounds unbelievable, and certainly counterintuitive, when talking about what should be the planet’s lungs: animal agriculture, logging, mining, infrastructure and urban development caused some parts of the Amazon rainforest to emit more carbon dioxide than it absorbs in 2021.

Deforestation in the Amazon has eliminated thousands of species of wildlife and plants, put the lives of local communities at risk and crippled one of nature’s most important tools in storing carbon and staving off the climate crisis. According to the World Resources Institute, the Amazon rainforest remains a net carbon sink, just barely, and that’s thanks to strong protections in lands managed by Indigenous communities.

Let’s take a look at how we got here, and what can be done to restore this crucial rainforest.

How much of The Amazon has been explored?

Much of the Amazon rainforest remains unexplored — and its remoteness helps limit its destruction. In fact, the ancient ruins of vast cities were recently discovered in the midst of the forest.

Native wildlife flora and fauna are still able to flourish in the most remote areas, and Indigenous people are able to remain isolated. Researchers believe there are still several dozen communities of Indigenous people in the Amazon who have never been in contact with researchers.

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The Amazon has been explored

The Amazon Rainforest Is a Critical Tool for Climate Action

Not only does the rainforest provide a habitat for thousands of species of wildlife and millions of plant species, but it plays an important role in counteracting global climate change. By current estimates, the Amazon holds around 150 billion tons of carbon, which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide emissions.

The Amazon Rainforest Spans Eight Countries

The rainforest spans parts of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. Brazil contains the largest portion of this natural resource — just over 1.5 million square miles of the Amazon. Brazil is also where the majority of deforestation took place in 2021.

How Big Is the Amazon Rainforest?

The world’s most well-known rainforest covers approximately 2.72 million square miles in total, equivalent to twice the size of India. The Amazon river that flows through it is 4,100 miles long.

When Did Deforestation Start in the Amazon?

Researchers believe mass deforestation began in the 1960s, driven by land owners and their commercial activities.

Why Is the Amazon Rainforest in Danger?

Large swaths of the Amazon rainforest have been slashed and burned to be used for intensive animal agriculture, crop production, mining and industrial development. By 2018 these activities, among others, had resulted in the deforestation of 17 percent of the Amazon. In the past 20 years, eight percent of the rainforest has been destroyed as it continues to lose resilience.

Lack of Sufficient Regulations

When decision-makers have a simplistic pro-development agenda, they tend to have little regard for the devastating ecological and social impact of deforestation. Destructive activities surged in the Amazon after 2019, when president Bolsonaro’s government in Brazil weakened the protections that were previously put in place to protect the rainforest.

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Fortunately for the planet, with the election of a new president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, efforts to combat illegal deforestation and protect the rainforest have increased. Deforestation is now at a six-year low, in part as a result of those efforts.

Lack of Law Enforcement

The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources was set up to monitor activities related to the conservation of natural resources in Brazil. In 2019 and 2020, however, the agency acted on only 1.3 percent of the alerts for illegal deforestation activity in Brazil. Estimates suggest 94 percent of deforestation in the Amazon and the Cerrado may involve illegal activity, or around 18 million hectares of habitat.

Though Brazil’s new president is taking steps to remove cattle who are being kept illegally in the rainforest, ranchers, and even some politicians, are attempting to stop the operations.

The Amazon has been explored

What Are the Solutions to Deforestation?

In order to protect the Amazon rainforest, and thus ourselves, it’s necessary to take a multi-faceted approach that engages governments, NGOs, local and Indigenous communities, and nature itself.

1. Increased Government Regulations

Brazil’s previous president, Jair Bolsonaro, not only failed to enforce laws protecting the Amazon rainforest, but also cut the budgets of the government offices responsible for protecting it. Despite these moves, he did sign onto an international agreement to end deforestation.

His successor, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has taken steps to meet those goals, and made protecting the Amazon a central part of his environmental platform.

2. Implementing Nature-Based Solutions

Amazon — the corporate giant, not the rainforest — launched a program in 2021 to support nature-based solutions in its namesake. They provide funding and technical support to small-scale farmers who opt to take part in sustainable, plant-based agriculture rather than expanding cattle operations.

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In exchange, the online marketplace receives carbon credits for the additional carbon being removed from the atmosphere and stored in the farmers’ trees. Carbon credit programs, however, are only successful when the removals are real, additional, permanent and measurable; yet a recent investigation published in The Guardian revealed that 90 percent of certified rainforest credits were worthless.

3. Supporting Nonprofit Organizations

There are numerous nonprofits involved with preserving and reforesting the Amazon rainforest. Some of the bigger names are The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International. There are also numerous smaller, locally run and organized groups.

4. Reducing or Eliminating Beef and Dairy Consumption

Since cattle ranching and feed crop cultivation are the leading causes of deforestation in the Amazon, reducing or eliminating the amount of beef and dairy we consume is a key part of protecting the rainforest.

5. Indigenous Land Management

Indigenous peoples have lived alongside and stewarded the natural resources of the Amazon Rainforest for thousands of years. Under their watchful eye, the rainforest thrived, and they continue to advocate on the forest’s behalf.

How Deforestation in the Amazon Affects Plant and Animal Species

As one of the most biodiverse places on earth, the Amazon is home to thousands of different species. Its destruction has lasting implications for all who call it home. When the forest is destroyed, animals lose their homes and food chains are disrupted, leading to species extinctions.

The Amazon has been explored

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