Averting the Tipping Point
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What is Amazonia?
This 80×25 initiative adopts the RAISG definition of Amazonia as a region that spans nine countries including Bolivia, Brasil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyane Française, Guyana, Perú, Suriname and Venezuela. The boundary used by RAISG (8,470,209 km2) is a sum of the four criteria mentioned above, always considering the largest option. This results in a boundary formed by: i) the limits of the Amazon biome in Colombia and Venezuela; ii) the limits of the Amazon basin in Ecuador, Perú and Bolivia; iii) the sum of the limits of the basins (Amazonas and Araguaia/Tocantins) and the limits of the administrative Legal Amazon in Brasil; iv) the whole continental territories of Guyana, Guyane Française and Suriname.
What is the tipping point?
The IPCC (2019) defines the tipping point as when achieving “irreversibility – such as degradation of ecosystems that cannot be restored to their original baseline”. A group of scientists define it as “the possibility of a dieback of the entire ecosystem due to deforestation only of parts of the rainforest”. Others established that “a tipping point for the Amazon system to flip to non-forest ecosystems in eastern, southern and central Amazonia is at 20-25% deforestation.” In summary, this term refers to the start of a process where the planet loses the largest carbon sink that sustains life.
Deforestation levels are currently approaching 18% – a mere 2% away from the edge of the tipping point. Affirming and planning to keep 80% of forests intact and protected is a critical global priority that will enable this ecosystem to function as the climate and weather regulator or heart and lungs of the planet. An 80% protection target also aligns with the cultural survival needs of hundreds of indigenous nationalities and millions of indigenous peoples who depend on intact forests and river systems in order to survive. Currently, National Protected Areas (NPAs) and Indigenous Territories (ITs) are vital to protect the Amazonia. Together they cover 47.2% of the Amazonia (ITs -27.5%- and NPAs -24.6%-, overlap between both 17.7%, RAISG 2021, p.16). 87.5% of deforestation happened beyond these lands (RAISG 2021, p. 46).
The Amazon is at a crisis point and there is no time to waste. Safeguarding our shared future requires bold action and current rates of deforestation and degradation will put the biome on a path towards continued unraveling. Put simply, 2030 is too late.
Existing targets are set to be accomplished by 2030. By then, more than half of the Amazon maywill already be destroyed. As modeled by WWF in 2007,” the current trends of agricultural and livestock expansion, fire, drought and logging could deforest or severely damage 55 percent of the Amazon rainforest by the year 2030.” Lovejoy and Nobre (2019) established that “The Amazon not only cannot withstand further deforestation but also now requires rebuilding as the underpinning base of the hydrological cycle if the Amazon is to continue to serve as a flywheel of continental climate for the planet and an essential part of the global carbon cycle as it has for millennia.”
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