August 21, 2012
Latin American countries lose 4% of dry forests in 9 years
Click image to enlarge
The research — based on analysis of data from the MODIS sensor on NASA satellites — looked at vegetation change in ten biomes across 16,000 municipalities in Latin America and the Caribbean. It found that dry forest cover fell from 2.03 million sq km in 2001 to 1.95 million in 2010, or 3.8 percent during the period. By comparison, moist forests — popularly lumped together as "rainforests" — declined 1.9 percent from 9.52 million sq km to 9.34 million sq km.
Dry forest loss was concentrated in Argentina (loss of 67,140 sq km), Paraguay (16,876 sq km), Bolivia (9,041 sq km), and Brazil (2,985 sq km) where industrial soybean agriculture and cattle ranching were fast-expanding. The Chaco ecosystem suffered the brunt of forest clearing as well as forest fragmentation. The authors note that conversion of the dry forest for agriculture and pasture "represents a major loss" in carbon stocks.
Dry forest in Mato Grosso du Sul, Brazil
Overall the study found Latin America experienced a gross loss of 542,000 sq km of woody vegetation cover during the period. That loss was partly offset by a net gain of 362,000 sq km.
The research was led by Mitchell Aide of the University of Puerto Rico.
|Country||Gross loss (sq km)||Gross gain (sq km)||Net Change (sq km)|
CITATION: Aide, T. M., M. L. Clark, H. R. Grau, D. López-Carr, M. Levy, D. Redo, M. Bonilla-Moheno, G. Riner, M. J. Andrade-Núñez, and M. Muñiz. Online August 3, 2012. Deforestation and reforestation of Latin America and the Caribbean (2001-2010). Biotropica. DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2012.00908.x
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Chaco biodiversity expedition suspended
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