New research on forest degradation in the Brazilian Amazon, co-authored by Marcos Antonio Pedlowski (Brazil, 2005/06)

Marcos Antonio Pedlowski (Brazil, 2005/06) has co-authored a new paper published in Science: ‘Long-term forest degradation surpasses deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon’.

The paper explores the extent and nature of forest degradation in the Brazilian Amazon between 1992 and 2014. It’s conclusion – that degradation has affected a larger area than deforestation – has important implications for our understanding of biodiversity, conservation biology, and international policy.

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The article shows that the area of the Brazilian Amazon affected by forest degradation - where the forest's biomass is lost, but not completely converted to another use - is larger than the area affected by deforestation. According to the results of the study published today by Science, between 1992 and 2014, the total area of degraded forest was 337,427 square kilometers, compared to 308,311 square kilometers that were deforested.

These results have implications for global greenhouse gas emissions and species loss, among other factors. Forest degradation is more difficult to measure and monitor than deforestation, although several international environmental initiatives, such as the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, point to the restoration of degraded forests as a main focus.

Activities that cause forest degradation, such as burning, selective logging and forest fragmentation can be difficult to detect under an existing forest canopy. The analysis of satellite images made by the team led by Eraldo Matricardi shows cases where degradation persisted and reoccurred over the 25-year period. This is a “good and bad” result, because although the forest was not completely lost in these places, there was an inevitable loss of environmental services (see the article for the temporal progression of the different types of forest degradation in the Brazilian Amazon over the period studied).


The paper was authored by Eraldo Aparecido Trondoli Matricardi, David Lewis Skole, Olívia Bueno Costa, Marcos Antonio Pedlowski, Jay Howard Samek, Eder Pereira Miguel.

Marcos Antonio Pedlowski was a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at Fairfield University in 2005/06. He is currently Associate Professor at the Northern Fluminense State University in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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