Brazil to Count Trees in Amazon

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Brazil to Count Trees in Amazon

Brazil is reportedly going to create a census of its rainforest trees by counting each in an attempt to better learn how to conserve its trees. When you think about it, it is a difficult task to know when you’re losing trees, until it’s blatantly obvious, without having a headcount (or should I say “canopy count?”).

The AFP writes:

The planned tree census, set to take four years, ‘will allow us to have a broad panorama of the quality and the conditions in the forest cover,’ the ministry said in a statement. The head of the national forest service said that the survey will provide a detailed knowledge of the rainforest, which has been under environmental threat from logging and climate change.

Wondering how Brazil will tackle this daunting task?

“Teams sent across Brazil’s 3,288,000 square miles, encompassing about half of the world’s remaining tropical forest, will sample about 20,000 points at 20-kilometer intervals,” reports Fast Company. “Researchers will log the number, height, diameter, and species of trees, along with soil types, biomass carbon stocks, and even local people’s interactions with the forest at each site. Once completed, it will the most comprehensive national inventory in Brazil since 1983.”

This effort is commendable, since Brazil’s rainforest is at a serious risk. As we reported last August, the diversity seen in the Amazon rainforest has been threatened for years due to human activity. It has been estimated that almost 90 percent of the rain forest is now gone, having been replaced with roads and cities, and as a result, the biodiversity has also taken a hit.

Unfortunately, the news only gets worst. A recent study, which appeared in the journal Plos ONE, found that the rainforest which once was known for its biodiversity is currently the poster child of extinction. The biologists found that numbers to be shocking — for instance, only 767 populations of mammals of 3,528 still existed. Other species facing extinction include jaguars, lowland tapirs, woolly spider monkeys and giant anteaters.

The study states:

On average, forest patches retained 3.9 out of 18 potential species occupancies, and geographic ranges had contracted to 0–14.4% of their former distributions, including five large-bodied species that had been extirpated at a regional scale. Forest fragments were highly accessible to hunters and exposed to edge effects and fires, thereby severely diminishing the predictive power of species-area relationships[.]

While the study brought bad news, it also shared some good news that shed light on how the biodiversity in the Amazon can be protected. The study found that the areas of the rainforest that have ecological protection also showed the highest rates of biodiversity. This means that all hope is not gone and that if we work towards protecting what is left, via hunting and constructions bans, of the rainforest then we still stand a chance to save the species that face extinction.

Susmita is a freelance writer and editor in the Greater New York City area with her own blog on natural beauty (Cherry Stained Lips). In her spare time, Susmita enjoys cooking, traveling, dappling in photography, art history and interior design, and moonlighting as a therapist for her loved ones.