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Deforestation and threats to the biodiversity of Amazonia

Desmatamento e ameaças à biodiversidade da Amazônia

ICG. Vieira PM. Toledo JMC. Silva H. Higuchi About the authors

This is a review of the main factors currently perceived as threats to the biodiversity of Amazonia. Deforestation and the expansion of the agricultural frontier go hand in hand within the context of occupation and land use in the region, followed by a hasty process of industrialization since the 1950s and, more recently, by a nation-wide attempt to adapt Brazil to economic globalization. Intensive agriculture and cattle-raising, lack of territorial planning, the monoculture of certain crops often promoted by official agencies, and the introduction of exotic species by cultivation are some of the factors affecting Amazonian biodiversity. There are still large gaps in knowledge that need to be dealt with for a better understanding of the local ecosystems so as to allow their preservation, but such investigation is subjected to manifold hindrances by misinformation, disinformation and sheer ignorance from the legal authorities and influential media. Data available for select groups of organisms indicate that the magnitude of the loss and waste of natural resources associated with deforestation is staggering, with estimated numbers of lost birds and primates being over ten times that of such animals illegally commercialized around the world in one year. The challenges to be met for an eventual reversal of this situation demand more systematic and concerted studies, the consolidation of new and existing research groups, and a call for a halt to activities depleting the Amazonian rainforest.

Amazonia; biodiversity; deforestation

Instituto Internacional de Ecologia R. Bento Carlos, 750, 13560-660 São Carlos SP - Brasil, Tel. e Fax: (55 16) 3362-5400 - São Carlos - SP - Brazil