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40% of the Amazon Rainforest Is at Tipping Point To Becoming Savanna

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

40% of the Amazon Rainforest Is at Tipping Point To Becoming Savanna:


A study was conducted on the state of Amazon Forests under Global Fire Emissions Database project run by NASA. The report has been released.

Key findings:

  • Fires in the Amazon region in 2019 were unprecedented in their destruction. Thousands of fires had burned more than 7,600 square kilometres by October that year. But, fires in the Amazon in 2020 surpassed those of 2019.
  • Despite the surge in fires, international attention has waned in 2020, likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • As of 2019, an estimated 17 per cent of the Amazon’s forest cover has been clear-cut or burned since the 1970s.

What are the concerns now?

  • As the rainforest bleeds biomass through deforestation, it loses its ability to capture carbon from the atmosphere and releases carbon through combustion.
  • If the annual fires burning the Amazon are not curtailed, one of the world’s largest carbon sinks will progressively devolve into a carbon faucet, releasing more carbon dioxide than it sequesters.

Forests to semi-arid Savannah:

Many researchers predict that deforestation is propelling the Amazon towards a tipping point, beyond which it will gradually transform into a semi-arid savanna.

  • If the deforestation of the rainforest continues past a threshold of 20-25 per cent total deforestation, multiple positive feedback loops will spark the desertification of the Amazon Basin.

Why Amazon is significant?

Amazon rainforest covers approximately eight million square kilometres — an area larger than Australia — and is home to an astounding amount of biodiversity.

  • It helps balance the global carbon budget by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and plays a key role in the global water cycle, stabilizing global climate and rainfall.


Spread of Amazon:

  • These are large tropical rainforest occupying the drainage basin of the Amazon River and its tributaries in northern South America and covering an area of 6,000,000 square km.
  • Comprising about 40% of Brazil’s total area, it is bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north, the Andes Mountains to the west, the Brazilian central plateau to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

The basin is shared by eight countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname), as well as the overseas territory of French Guiana.


Prelims Link:

  1. Amazon forests are spread over in how many countries?
  2. About Savannah forests.
  3. What are Evergreen Rain Forests.

Mains Link:

Why Amazon forests should be protected? Discuss its ecological significance.

Sources: the Hindu.