About 40 percent of the Amazon’s rainforests could be lost by 2050
unless more is done to prevent what could become one of the world’s
worst environmental crisis, scientists said on Wednesday.

Existing
laws and preserving public wildlife reserves will not be enough.
Measures are also needed to protect rainforests from the impact of
profitable industries such as cattle ranching and soy farming, they
added.

"By 2050, current trends in agricultural expansion will
eliminate a total of 40 percent of Amazon forests, including six major
watersheds and ecoregions," Britaldo Soares-Filho, of the Universidade
Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil, said in a report in the journal
Nature.

A watershed is an area of land where all of the water
that is under it or drains from it goes into the same place. It
supplies water and habitats for plants and animals.

The image “//virtual.yosemite.cc.ca.us/ghayes/images/DSC04142 Cloudy rainforest b.JPG” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Soares-Filho
and his colleagues used computer models to simulate what would happen
to the Brazilian rainforests in the future under different scenarios.

"For
the first time, we can examine how individual policies ranging from the
paving of highways to the requirement for forest reserves on private
properties will influence the future of the world’s largest tropical
forest," Soares-Filho said in a statement.

Without further
checks, the scientists predict nearly 100 native species will be
deprived of more than half of their habitats and nearly 2 million
square kilometres (772,300 sq mile) of forest will be lost.

But
if more is done to control expansion and increase protected areas, 73
percent of the original forest would remain in 2050 and carbon
emissions would be reduced.

The scientists said better
conservation of the rainforest would have worldwide benefits so
developed countries should be willing to pay to make it possible.

"By
building a policy-sensitive crystal ball for the Amazon, we are able to
identify the most important policy levers for reconciling economic
development with conservation," said Daniel Nepstad, a co-author of the
study who leads the Amazon program of the Woods Hole Research Center in
Massachusetts.

Reuters.com

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