Massive effort to save the Amazon is failing even in ‘protected’ areas

Chelsea Harvey – The Washington Post, 06/29/2016

Up to now, attempts to protect the Amazon have largely focused on preventing deforestation — historically one of the greatest threats the vast South American region has faced. And while efforts in recent years have been successful at slowing or halting deforestation in many places, especially in Brazil, the fight for the Amazon is far from over.

In recent years, scientists have identified numerous other threats to the region — which spans across eight countries — including damming and mining. And now, a new study is calling attention to yet another way human activity can harm the forest and its inhabitants. Published Wednesday in the journal Nature, the new paper explores the effect of other human disturbances, besides deforestation, on the Amazon’s biodiversity — including selective logging (which typically targets specific types of trees while leaving the rest of the forest intact), wildfires, hunting, altering or fragmenting the landscape, and other forms of habitat degradation.

Many people might assume that a forest’s biodiversity, or the amount of different organisms present in an area, more or less depends simply on how much forest has been cleared by humans — that more forest equals more life, in other words.

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