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Posts tagged Deforestation

How Deforestation Impacts the Amazon River, Brazil – June 15th, 2013

0.4N 50.2W

June 15th, 2013 Category: Deforestation, Image of the day, Sediments MODISAqua

Brazil – June 15th, 2013

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).

Deforestation in Brazilian State of Rondônia

11.5S 63.5W

June 14th, 2013 Category: Deforestation MODISTerra

Brazil – June 14th, 2013

The conversion of tropical rain forests to pasture and cropland is having dramatic effects on the environment. Particularly intense and rapid deforestation is taking place in the state of Rondônia, Brazil, part of which is shown here.

About 30% (3,562,800 km2) of the world’s tropical forests are in Brazil. The estimated average deforestation rate from 1978 to 1988 was 15,000 km2 per year. In Rondônia, 67,764 km2 of rain forest had been cleared through 2003.

Systematic cutting of forest vegetation starts along roads and then fans out to create the “feather” or “fishbone” pattern, which begins to show in the eastern half of the 1986 image. The deforested land and urban areas appear lavender; healthy vegetation appears green (click here for more information).

Deforestation and Soil Loss in Madagascar

15.5S 46.8E

May 25th, 2013 Category: Deforestation, Sediments

Madagascar – May 25th, 2013

Deforestation in Madagascar is an ongoing environmental issue. Deforestation with resulting desertification, water resource degradation and soil loss has affected approximately 94% of Madagascar’s previously biologically productive lands. Here, the country’s red soils can be seen as sediment spilling forth from rivermouths along the coast.

Since the arrival of humans 2000 years ago, Madagascar has lost more than 90% of its original forest. 70% of the forest cover of Madagascar was destroyed between 1895 and 1925, while Madagascar was under French rule. Since 1953, half of the remaining forest has been lost.

Largely due to deforestation, the country is currently unable to provide adequate food, fresh water and sanitation for its fast growing population. One major cause of deforestation has been the introduction of coffee as a cash crop during the French colonial period.

Primary causes of forest loss include slash-and-burn for agricultural land (a practice known locally as tavy) and for pasture, selective logging for precious woods or construction material, the collection of fuel wood (including charcoal production), and forest clearing for mining.

Climate Change and Deforestation in the Philippines – May 22nd, 2013

9.7N 122.3E

May 22nd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Vegetation Index

Philippines – May 22nd, 2013

The Philippines is considered as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. With impacts ranging from extreme weather events and periodic inundation to droughts and food scarcity, climate change has been a constant reality that many Filipinos have had to face.

Most affected are those living in coastal communities and the lower rung urban communities that lack awareness on proper disaster preparedness measures to take. As it is, climate change impacts have not only intensified from an imbalanced natural eco-system, but every onslaught has become unpredictable (click here for more information).

Another issue affecting the Philippines is deforestation. Over the course of the 20th century the forest cover of the Philippines dropped from 70% down to 20%. Only 3.2percent of total rainforest is left. Based on an analysis of land use pattern maps and a road map, an estimated 9.8 million ha of forests were lost in the Philippines from 1934 to 1988. Despite this problem, the islands show a mostly good vegetation index, as evidenced by the predominantly green coloring here.

Climate Change and Deforestation in Borneo – May 3rd, 2013

1.0N 114.2E

May 3rd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Deforestation, Image of the day, Vegetation Index

Indonesia – May 3rd, 2013

This image focuses on the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia, showing its vegetation index. The rainforests of Southeast Asia support much of the region’s biodiversity. They play a crucial role in providing important ecosystem services such as soil stabilisation and carbon storage, and are an important source of income locally and nationally.

However, these lowland forests are under serious threat from direct and indirect human activities. Deforestation is occurring at a huge rate, due to logging for timber, conversion to huge agricultural plantations, and slash-and-burn farming methods. This has a serious impact on biodiversity and general functioning of the ecosystem and, as a result, affects the livelihoods of the many people who depend on the forests for income, shelter, water and food.

Perhaps the biggest and most long-term threat facing the rainforests, however, is posed by climate change, in particular increasingly severe and frequent droughts associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events – the dry phase of a global cycle driving our climate. The wet La Niña phase of the ENSO cycle is also becoming more intense, leading to increasing frequency and size of large rainstorms. These wash away huge amounts of soil (and with it, valuable nutrients), which then ends up in the rivers causing sedimentation and flooding downstream.

The most important group of tree species in the rainforests of Borneo are the dipterocarps, which includes some of the largest forest species that grow in the tropics. In fact, Borneo hosts the greatest diversity and abundance of dipterocarps in the world – but they are suffering severely from the threats outlined above. The reduced recruitment of new seedlings and regeneration of older trees could have potentially disastrous implications. The future of the dipterocarps is at risk beyond the current generation unless restorative intervention is carried out (click here for more information).

Indonesia’s government has put plans for climate change management into effect, stressing the importance of conservation and utilization of the natural environment to support sustainable economic growth and the increased welfare of the people. Main programs include working on pollution and emission controls, reducing deforestation, peat lands management improvements and environmental rehabilitation. Indonesia and Australia are also working together to protect the forests of Kalimantan, the part of Borneo that belongs to Indonesia.

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