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      Climate Change, Deforestation, and the Fate of the Amazon

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      Science

      American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

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          Abstract

          The forest biome of Amazonia is one of Earth's greatest biological treasures and a major component of the Earth system. This century, it faces the dual threats of deforestation and stress from climate change. Here, we summarize some of the latest findings and thinking on these threats, explore the consequences for the forest ecosystem and its human residents, and outline options for the future of Amazonia. We also discuss the implications of new proposals to finance preservation of Amazonian forests.

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          Most cited references 29

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          Primary Production of the Biosphere: Integrating Terrestrial and Oceanic Components

           C Field (1998)
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            Modelling conservation in the Amazon basin.

            Expansion of the cattle and soy industries in the Amazon basin has increased deforestation rates and will soon push all-weather highways into the region's core. In the face of this growing pressure, a comprehensive conservation strategy for the Amazon basin should protect its watersheds, the full range of species and ecosystem diversity, and the stability of regional climates. Here we report that protected areas in the Amazon basin--the central feature of prevailing conservation approaches--are an important but insufficient component of this strategy, based on policy-sensitive simulations of future deforestation. By 2050, current trends in agricultural expansion will eliminate a total of 40% of Amazon forests, including at least two-thirds of the forest cover of six major watersheds and 12 ecoregions, releasing 32 +/- 8 Pg of carbon to the atmosphere. One-quarter of the 382 mammalian species examined will lose more than 40% of the forest within their Amazon ranges. Although an expanded and enforced network of protected areas could avoid as much as one-third of this projected forest loss, conservation on private lands is also essential. Expanding market pressures for sound land management and prevention of forest clearing on lands unsuitable for agriculture are critical ingredients of a strategy for comprehensive conservation.
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              Global State of Biodiversity and Loss

              Biodiversity, a central component of Earth's life support systems, is directly relevant to human societies. We examine the dimensions and nature of the Earth's terrestrial biodiversity and review the scientific facts concerning the rate of loss of biodiversity and the drivers of this loss. The estimate for the total number of species of eukaryotic organisms possible lies in the 5�15 million range, with a best guess of ~7 million. Species diversity is unevenly distributed; the highest concentrations are in tropical ecosystems. Endemisms are concentrated in a few hotspots, which are in turn seriously threatened by habitat destruction�the most prominent driver of biodiversity loss. For the past 300 years, recorded extinctions for a few groups of organisms reveal rates of extinction at least several hundred times the rate expected on the basis of the geological record. The loss of biodiversity is the only truly irreversible global environmental change the Earth faces today.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Science
                Science
                American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
                0036-8075
                1095-9203
                January 11 2008
                January 11 2008
                : 319
                : 5860
                : 169-172
                Article
                10.1126/science.1146961
                18048654
                233c7632-c1c5-44e3-99ed-87677882860c
                © 2008

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