A study suggests an economic development model that treats the Amazon as a source of high-tech innovations. Fifty years of deforestation has converted around 1 million km2 of Amazon tropical forests to agricultural lands, endangering biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Additionally, global warming will likely shift tropical forests toward savanna ecosystems. To study the risks that land-use change, climate change, and development present to the Amazon forest, Carlos Nobre and colleagues modeled the impacts of future climate change and deforestation on the major Amazon biomes. When the model was limited to climate change forcing, Amazon tropical forest coverage for 2050 was predicted to be 15% smaller under a high-emissions scenario, compared with a low-emissions scenario. If the model also included human deforestation and forest fires, present-day Amazon forest coverage was projected to be reduced by greater than 60% by 2050, with eastern and southern Amazon forests converting to seasonal forest and tropical savanna. Furthermore, amounts of deforestation did not correlate with agricultural gross domestic product in Amazonian countries, implying that deforestation-based development may not provide economic growth for those countries. According to the authors, Amazonian nations should sustainably develop the Amazon forests as a source of biological assets and biomimicry designs that could lead to high value products, services, and platforms for current and new markets. - Read at PNAS.org
Article #16-05516: “Land-use and climate change risks in the Amazon and the need of a novel sustainable development paradigm,” by Carlos A. Nobre et al.