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Amazon Rainforest Becoming More Flammable Due To Human Activities, Say Scientists

First Posted: Jun 30, 2016 05:41 AM EDT

Another proof has surfaced that humans are the main factor in the destruction of the ecosystem. Recently, it was found that human disturbance is causing the Amazon rainforest to become more flammable.

The two-year study of the Brazilian Amazon revealed that even the protected forest has been degraded by human activity. These activities, according to BBC News, include selective logging and forest fragmentation, which then increases the likelihood of wildfires.

The findings, which were published in the journal Nature, said that despite the protection from large-scale deforestration, more effort is needed to ensure the safety of the Amazon and its "hyper-diversity of tropical forests."

Measuring the effects that humans already have on the 5.5 million square kilometers of rainforest, scientists took two years to gather data from 400 different plot sites ranging from pristine to deforested areas, measuring population densities of trees, birds, and insects. They found that these landscapes only have 50% of their potential value due to the disturbance in the forest.

Prof Jos Barlow, lead researcher of the experiment from the Lancaster Environment Centre said that the disturbance include "anything that humans do to the forests," including selective logging and hunting. These activities could punch holes in the canopy and dry out the vegetation on the ground. With the combined effects of climate change, more and more of the Amazon is likely to catch fire.

Governments have been trying to protect the Amazon. As The Washington Post pointed out, under Brazilian law, property owners are not supposed to allow more than 20 percent of primary forest to be cleared in their land, but not all follow the rules, and there are still other human activities that could cause problems.

"By focusing on only one form of disturbance, such studies may have overlooked much greater conservation losses from the combined effects of forest disturbances," said David Edwards, a tropical biodiversity fellow from the University of Sheffield in England said.

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