Fire in Amazon Rainforest

Forest fires are common during the dry season and have also become frequent in modern times, but the continuing fire in the world’s largest rainforests have led to a growing concern among the Environmentalists. Let’s discuss why Amazon Rain Forests are important to us and how does the spreading fire in the Amazon basin can impact the Environment:

The Amazon rain forest:

  • Rainforests are the most productive ecosystems on Earth, using the energy they generate for self-maintenance, reproduction and growth.
  • The largest rainforest of the world is located in Amazon Basin, which is drained by the Amazon River (World’s largest river in terms of discharge, and the second longest river, after the Nile).
  • The Amazon forests are world’s richest and most-varied biodiversity of any ecosystem on the planet.
  • The rainforest is aptly referred to as the “lungs of the planet” as it generates more than 20% of the world’s oxygen and 10% of the world’s known biodiversity.
  • These forests are home to about 1/3rd of all the known species of animals, insects, plants, birds and other forms of life along with a variety of vegetation types including rainforests, seasonal forests, deciduous forests, flooded forests, and savannas.
  • The rainforest plays a major role in regulating the climate and are responsible for more than 50 % of all the rain that falls in the Amazon.
  • These Rainforests are inhabited by almost 30 Million people, including several indigenous tribes that live upon the resources of these forests.
  • Several plants of these rainforests have medicinal value and the scientists believe that less than half of 1% of flowering plant species have been studied in detail for their medicinal potential.

Forest Fire and its Consequences:

  • Such wild fires occur in Brazil’s dry season, but the increasing number of fires are being deliberately started in efforts to illegally deforest land for settlement and cattle ranching.
  • The newly elected administration has relaxed several Environmental laws to boost economic growth in the region and that has resulted in large scale deforestation.
  • There have been 74,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon since the beginning of 2019, a staggering 84% increase over the same period last year as per, National Institute for Space Research, Brazil.
  • These fires were so intense that the smoke coming from them blocked the Sun’s rays and several cities in Brazil became dark during daytime. The fires were so intense that they could be seen rom space too.
  • There have been 26,000 fires in Venezuela and 17, 000 fires in the Bolivia in the same period.
  • Interestingly, around 95% of these fires are result of human action. mining, subsistence agriculture, dams, urban expansion, agricultural fires, conversions for cattle grazing, and timber plantations are other factors leading to the forest loss in the Amazon.

Environmental and Social Impacts of Destruction of these forests:

  • As the Amazon rainforest biome slowly shrinks in size, so does the richness of wildlife found in its forests, along with the potential use of plants and animals that remain undiscovered.
  • The fate of the Amazon is widely considered by climate change experts as, key to the future of the planet, with the rainforest providing more than 20 % of the planet’s oxygen. Since it is the world’s largest rainforest, it is a vital carbon store that slows down global warming. Its destruction – deliberate or otherwise – reduces the ability of nature to suck carbon from the atmosphere.
  • As per WWF, around 29 % of Amazon forest have already been lost to mining, logging, farming, hydropower dams and other activities. We know that the trees take in CO2 and release carbon and Oxygen into the atmosphere. In the absence of these forests, the earth’s ability to lock up excess carbon will be reduced, which will lead to increased effects of Global warming.
  • The indigenous people will be severely affected, as they are heavily dependent upon these forests for their living.

We, the humans have always wished and tried to control nature and its resources and our unsustainable approach has altered the natural balance. Recent years have seen an exponential rise in global temperature, pollution, natural disasters and many more visible signs of impending danger. The situation can only improve if we chose to act now.

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      Dr. RS Aggarwal
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