It is well known that humans are having devastating impacts on the Amazon rainforest, but new data may show that the impact is greater than we ever could have imagined. A group of ten researches led by Dr. Erika Berenguer from Lancaster University conducted the largest ever study that estimates the amount of carbon that is lost from selective logging and ground level forest fires.

Logging. Credit: Luke Parry

What they found out was astonishing – selective logging and wildfires alone can result in an annual amount of 54 billion tons of carbon from the Brazilian Amazon. This drastically increases the amount of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere.

“The impacts of fire and logging in tropical forests have always been largely overlooked by both the scientific community and policy makers who are primarily concerned with deforestation. Yet our results show how these disturbances can severely degrade the forest, with huge amounts of carbon being transferred from plant matter straight into the atmosphere” – Dr. Erika Bergenuer.

These kinds of impacts also threaten the integrity of the forest itself, with primary forests turning into scrub that consists of smaller trees and shrubs. This would result in a loss of habitat for animals that depend on the primary forest and a decrease in biodiversity.

Read the original article on phys.org. Story provided by Lancaster University.