Farming, big infrastructure projects and roads drive the deforestation that’s slowly killing the Amazon.The Amazonian wildfires are a human-made disaster, set by loggers and cattle ranchers who use a “slash and burn” method to clear land.
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Deforestation is largely due to land clearing for agricultural purposes, particularly cattle ranching but also soybean production.
Rachel Garrett is a professor at Boston University who studies land use in Brazil.
Industrialization and facilitates trade
Current development plans are to build continental infrastructure that provides electricity for industrialisation and facilitates trade across the region. For the Brazilian Amazon, that means not just new dams but also “webs of waterways, rail lines, ports and roads” that will get products like soybeans, corn and beef to market, according to professor Walker.
Robert T. Walker, is a University of Florida professor who has conducted environmental research in the Amazon for 25 years
Shore erosion and silt buildup in streams
Researchers found that makeshift road crossings cause both shore erosion and silt buildup in streams. This worsens water quality, hurting the fish that thrive in this delicately balanced habitat.
The ill-designed road crossings – which feature perched culverts that disrupt water flow – also act as barriers to movement, preventing fish from finding places to feed, breed and take shelter.
Tropical forests destroyed by fire, logging, land-clearing and roads can be replanted, say ecologists Robin Chazdon and Pedro Brancalion.“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.”
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