Deforestation galore

Published: Wednesday 15 December 1993

DEFORESTATION in the Brazilian Amazon since the 1970s is lower than estimated, but its effect on biological diversity is greater. Estimates of deforestation ranged as high as 50,000 square kilometres per year to 80,000 sq km in the late 1980s. But a NASA-University of New Hampshire study published in Science said 15,000 sq km of the Brazilian Amazon was deforested every year between 1978 and 1988.

However, the adverse effects of deforestation on plant and animal species have increased, the study revealed. Natural habitat occurring on the fringes of fragmented forests (forests surrounded by deforested areas) are now more vulnerable to weather, foraging livestock and humans.

Compton Tucker, co-author of the paper, said the major contributor to the deforestation was agricultural expansion.

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