A curious but very interesting article in today’s Financial Times reporting what seems to be the potential demise of Brazil’s Amazon rain forest at the hands of the country’s new President Jair Bolsonaro.
According to the FT citing research by Brazil’s space agency, the National Institute for Space Research (INPE):
Some 3,170 square kilometres of the world’s largest tropical forest was cleared last month, according to preliminary data from the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the country’s space agency. The deforestation in July, which followed sharp year-on-year rises in May and June, was the largest since Mr Bolsonaro came to power in January and the biggest in a single month for almost two years.
The article also points out that, as a result of this, tensions have mounted between indigenous, native people in the area and interests they allege are connected to the President along with provoking an international outcry since carbon emissions could go up as a result. Oh the horror! What is to be done? The rain forests and planet are surely doomed, right? Not exactly.
The accusations made against the President are just that and have yet to be proven, including if carbon dioxide levels resulting from the deforestation would rise. Furthermore, the FT also reports that Bolsonaro has disputed the agency’s findings as being hyped and, subsequently, sacked its director resulting from the controversy.
None the less, a a report released three years ago by Dr. Craig Woodard at Australia’s University of Queensland states that deforestation of rain forests can be a bane but can be a boon as well. In other words, he states that human impacts on the environment, such as deforestation, is not always a bad thing. According to Dr. Woodward, as quoted by the UQ News,:
We found that deforestation can significantly increase the amount of water flowing into wetlands and can even create new wetlands, he said.
“In the past, wetland managers have focused mainly on how deforestation has increased catchment erosion and the transport of sediment and nutrients into wetlands.
The news report also says:
The researchers analysed a global database of 245,000 wetlands and found that water levels in nine to 12 per cent, including 20 to 40 per cent of wetlands protected under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, were increased due to human deforestation activities.
They found that forest clearance increased the amount of water inflow to these wetland catchments by up to 15 per cent as forests act like “biological pumps” that increase the transport of water into the atmosphere and reduce the amount available to groundwater, rivers, and wetlands.
Increased water inflow can have a major effect by increasing water depth and water persistence in temporary wetlands, and creating new wetlands, Dr Woodward said.
This results in a major change in the plants and animals living in the area and can increase biodiversity.
According to Woodard, reforestation is not always a good thing either:
Reforestation is a natural step towards wetland catchment restoration, but in some cases this could result in the disappearance of the very wetland that we seek to protect.
Dr. Woodard praises wetlands as a vital part of the environment for providing not only a habitat for plants and animals but also help clean the water of pollutants and reduce flood impact. The doctor says that his study should give wetland managers better information on how to assess water quality resulting from reforestation. In other words, reforestation can result in negatively affecting water quality.
None of the above facts wold matter to environmentalist groups, like Imazao, who berated President Bolsonaro for his actions. He was automatically presumed guilty regardless of the outcome of the events surrounding the IPNE’s report. Groups, like Imazao, make no effort to lobby Brazil’s Congress to turn all or some of places, like the Amazon rain forest, into private preserves green groups can operate because they seek political power. Environmentalists could care less about the natural environment they claim to champion.
PHOTO CREDIT: – Deforestation in Amazonia – the roads in the forest follow a typical “fishbone” pattern. – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1193410