Amazon rainforest serves as the largest rainforest on Earth and is home to one in ten known species including about 400 Indigenous communities, accounting for nearly a third of the world’s primary forest. It has long been seen as a crucial carbon sink – a naturally occurring place on Earth, where carbon is absorbed. This then takes the level of carbon emissions down, globally. But today, we are faced with a deplorable reality: what used to be one of our planet’s greatest carbon sinks has become a carbon source.
A recent study published finds Amazon rainforest is now emitting more carbon dioxide than it absorbs because of deforestation and climate change which are deeply interconnected to have negative results on the environment. Because of climate change and industrialization, CO2 emission has been highly increased. Therefore the environment is releasing carbon faster than the rainforest can store it.
Deforestation which refers to the decrease in forest areas across the world, significantly caused negatively carbon absorption as fewer trees can absorb less amount of carbon. According to scientists, 3.9 million hectares faced deforestation in 2019 around the world..
Degradation is the damage done to the Amazon rainforest, without fully destroying it. When large swathes of forest are degraded, carbon is released into the atmosphere. Though degradation is seen as less dangerous than deforestation, scientists are suggesting that actually, it is, even more, to blame for the level of carbon being released over the last ten years.
It seems that, due to excessive levels of deforestation and degradation, the carbon sink is no longer functioning as a carbon sink. But it; Amazon Rainforest may not have yet reached a point of no return—but unless we act soon, it certainly will.