Loss of trees in the Brazilian rain forest is much worse than had been
thought, according to a new study. Losses in clear-cut areas where all trees
are removed have been monitored by satellite observations, but those were not
able to detect the cutting of individual trees in areas where others are left
Now, a more detailed satellite observation system is able to detect
selective logging, and the findings show much more widespread timber harvests
than had been thought, according to a report in Friday's issue of the journal
Annually, selective logging disturbs an area totaling about the size of Connecticut,
according to lead author Gregory Asner of the Carnegie Institution of Washington
and Stanford University.
"Selective logging negatively impacts many plants and animals and increases
erosion and fires. Additionally, up to 25 percent more carbon dioxide is released
to the atmosphere each year, above that from deforestation, from the decomposition
of what the loggers leave behind," Asner said in a statement.
Illegal logging was even discovered in some protected national reserves, parks
and indigenous lands, the researchers found.
"We expected to see large areas of logging, but the extent to which logging
penetrates deep into the frontier is much more dramatic than we anticipated,"
said co-author Michael Keller of the U.S. Forest Service.