How Deforestation Impacts the Amazon River, Brazil – June 15th, 20130.4N 50.2W
The Amazon Basin is the largest drainage basin in the world, covering over 7,049,947km2 of land, supplying the Amazon River with all of its water. The Amazon forest is an extremely important habitat containing 30.7% of the world’s rainforest and is the most species-rich biome in the entire world.
Deforestation has been a major problem in the Amazon since 1970s with the forest now 17.1% smaller than it originally was, which equates to 699,746km2 of forest lost. The Amazon has lost more forest than the total amount of forest India has, standing at around 440,000km2. The rate of deforestation has been and still is increasing every year.
The drastic amounts of deforestation obviously have a large impact, especially on the Amazon River itself, whose mouth is visible here. Forest cover anchors the soil, acting as a resistance to erosion, and when an area is cleared of forest erosion rates sky rocket. In a study done on the Ivory Coast a forested slope lost 0.03 hectares of soil per year, while a deforested slope lost up to 90 hectares per year, an increase of 3000%. All of this eroded sediment seeps into the river and is carried along its entire length to the delta on the east coast of Brazil.
An increase in sediment load has many adverse impacts: it can smother fish eggs, diminishing fish populations and hurting the ecosystem as well as the fishing industry, it can damage the infrastructure of a country by destroying bridges and dams which may hurt the economy, and it can increase flood rates and sizes by raising the river bed (click here for more information).