By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Global warming is on the rise, the world’s icebergs are melting at unprecedented rates, and hurricanes and other tropical storms are getting stronger and more menacing by the year.
But for all the bad environmental news out there, there is some good news in terms of deforestation, at least in the Amazon Basin.
According to the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), a multinational organization aimed at the promotion of sustainable development of the Amazon Basin, over the course of the last 15 years deforestation in that Latin American rainforest has decreased by 50 percent, and the area of replanted land has increased by a whopping 100 percent, mainly in Brazil and Peru.
Earlier this year, the eight-member ACTO issued a report on the state of the Amazon region based on a study conducted between 2000 and 2015.
During that 15-year period, the report stated that the overall surface of the Amazon rainforest shrank by an average of .28 percent annually, representing a net reduction of .92 million hectares, compared to a net loss of 1.81 million hectares during the previous 15-year period.
ACTO – created in 1995 and composed of Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela – reported that the member country that had made the most significant strides to cull forest erosion was Brazil, which registered an impressive 60 percent in its deforestation drop.
Columbia and Ecuador came in second, with a 56 percent drop in deforestation.
Unfortunately, Bolivia, Guyana, Peru and Surinam continued to allow illegal logging and desertification despite having committed to reduce these practices.
On the upside, the ACTO report showed that the overall area within the Amazon reserved for conservation and biodiversity protection increased by 50 percent.
That a lot more needs to be done to save the rainforests is obvious.
Tropical deforestation results in the release of not only carbon dioxide, but also methane and nitrous oxide, which contribute to global warming.
A recent Cornell University climatic study found that if tropical deforestation were to continue at its current rate, global temperatures could rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.
But the ACTO report does indicate that most of the key Amazon Basin nations are working to slow deforestation.
Today, the Amazon rainforest spans an area of 544 million hectares.
With closer monitoring, sustainable development and joint reforestation efforts, that expanse could actually increase by 10 percent by the year 2050.
That may not be enough of a change to reverse global warming, but at least it is a start in the right direction.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.