Amazon rain forest fire (Photo: Toa55/Shutterstock)

A new study in Nature, co-authored by SFI External Professor Brian Enquist and others at the University of Arizona, provides the first quantitative assessment of how environmental policies on deforestation, along with forest fires and drought, have impacted the diversity of plants and animals in the Amazon.
Researchers created biodiversity maps of the Amazon region representing more than 14,500 plant and vertebrate species, then used observations of forest fires and deforestation from the last two to quantify the cumulative impacts on the region's species.
Since 2001, they found, up to 73,400 square miles of Amazon rainforest have been impacted by fires, affecting 95% of all Amazonian species, including many threatened species. While forest management policies enacted in Brazil during the mid-2000s slowed the rate of habitat destruction, relaxed enforcement of those policies coinciding with a change in government in 2019 has seemingly begun to reverse the trend. 2019 stands out as one of the most extreme years for biodiversity impacts since 2009, when regulations limiting deforestation were enforced.
"We show how policy has had a direct and enormous influence on the pace at which biodiversity across the entire Amazon has been affected," said Enquist.

[Text adapted from a University of Arizona press release.] 

Read the paper, "How deregulation, drought and increasing fire impact Amazonian biodiversity," in Nature (September 1, 2021)

Read the article in Science News (September 1, 2021)

Read the article in Inside Climate News (September 1, 2021)

Read the article in Yahoo! News (September 1, 2021)