The fires now consuming vast swaths of the Amazon are the latest repercussion of development in the Amazon.
Set by farmers likely emboldened by their president’s anti-conservation stance, the blazes emit so much smoke that on Aug. 20 it blotted out the midday sun in the city of São Paulo, 1,700 miles away. The fires are still multiplying, and peak dry season is still a month away.
Apocalyptic as this sounds, science suggests it’s not too late to save the Amazon.
Tropical forests destroyed by fire, logging, land-clearing and roads can be replanted, say ecologists Robin Chazdon and Pedro Brancalion.
Using satellite imagery and the latest peer-reviewed research on biodiversity, climate change and water security, Chazdon and Brancalion identified 385,000 square miles of “restoration hotspots” – areas where restoring tropical forests would be most beneficial, least costly and lowest risk.
“Although these second-growth forests will never perfectly replace the older forests that have been lost,” Chazon writes, “planting carefully selected trees and assisting natural recovery processes can restore many of their former properties and functions.”
The five countries with the most tropical restoration potential are Brazil, Indonesia, India, Madagascar and Colombia.
This story is a roundup of articles from The Conversation’s archives.