The Amazon Network of Socio-Environmental Geo-Referenced Information, or RAISG, comprised of 11 environmental organizations from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela, presented on Dec. 4 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, the atlas “Amazon rainforest under pressure,” which warns of the dangers the South American Amazon region faces that in the near future could lead to the disappearance of half of the current Amazonian forests.
The RAISG has identified a set of six threats to the Amazon rainforest in the last decade: roads, oil and gas, hydroelectric dams, mining, forest fires, and deforestation.
“If all of the economic interests [projects] that are planned for the upcoming years occur, the Amazon rainforest will become a savanna with spots of forest,” warned the general coordinator of the RAISG, Beto Ricardo, from the Socio-Environmental Institute of Brazil.
The Amazon region covers 7.8 million square kilometers (3 million square miles) shared by Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. About 33 million people live in this region, including 385 indigenous communities.
The atlas bases its analysis on 55 maps, 61 charts, 23 graphics, 16 tables, and 73 pictures, which show “the pressures and dangers the Amazon rainforest faces.”
“The forest sceneries, socio-environmental diversity and fresh water are being replaced by degraded sceneries turned into savannas, drier and more homogeneous zones,” says the atlas. “The largest and most complex rainforest on the planet — with at least 10,000 years of human activity — continues to be a place for extraction and/or production of agro-industrial supplies and nonrenewable raw materials (commodities of low aggregate value), for national and international markets, which compromises [the rainforest’s] future potential for sustainable development and affects the conservation of living spaces.”
The deforestation analysis shows that between 2000 and 2010 nearly 240,000 square kilometers (92,000 square miles) of Amazonian forest were deforested. This is equivalent to twice the Ecuadorian Amazon.
The document recommends “to deepen the prospective analysis of the Amazon rainforest, starting with the information generated by the RAISG, to identify the future situation in the topics of: the capture and storage of forest carbon emissions according to the use of the land (protected areas, indigenous territories, and others); new frontiers to extractive economies around water sources (hydroelectric dams or systems for irrigation and drinking water); promotion of regional integration and its implications on infrastructure, energy security, or the movement of populations; strategies for adapting to climate change to reduce socio-environmental vulnerability in the high forests and flood zones of the Amazon rainforest.”
Likewise, the document points out “the necessity to adopt other topics of a positive agenda, linked to governance (of environment, forest, water or energy), effective measures for the integrated management of water basins in the adaptation to extreme variability and climatic changes, and good practices and sustainable productive chains, among others.”