Amid the droughts, the presence of humanity, and the increase of global warming, can South America’s Amazon rain forest survive? A good question, and one that Brazil’s government hopes to investigate with a four-year long ‘tree census,’ conducted by some of the world’s most capable and curious researchers. Correspondent Franc Contreras traveled to the Brazilian Amazon to join the expedition of “Tree Census.”
Follow Franc Contreras on Twitter: @FrancMex
Deforestation poses one of the rain forest’s most pressing problems. Researchers have been capturing satellite images of deforestation and sending them to the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, otherwise known as IBAMA. From there, IBAMA and the federal government are able to take action against the people that caused the damage.
Biodiversity is also essential for the sustained health of the rain forest. With an estimated three thousand species of fish and seventy thousand species of insects, the Amazon is often referred to as a ‘living treasure.’ Researchers are discovering the presence of new species every day, but they are also discovering the depletion of others. Arapaima, the world’s largest freshwater fish, for example, is caught daily in the Amazon Rivers, and then transported to busy fish markets in nearby Manaus. Not all catches and sales are legal, however, and the population is quickly diminishing.
Researchers believe that knowledge is key for the survival of the rain forest, and they hope the tree census and subsequent research will help future generations conserve this important global resource.
In addition to the high number of insects and fish, the Amazon is home to hundreds of species of trees. Some exceed 90 meters in height and grow trunks that are 12 meters wide.