A new study published recently in the American journal Ecology suggests that the Amazon forest may regenerate much slower than previously thought after being harvested. Researchers such as the University of Para in Brazil and Lancaster University in the United Kingdom have monitored the regeneration of the Amazon forest in Braganza, Brazil, for more than 20 years, the first area in the Amazon region to experience deforestation, losing almost all of its original forests.
(Original title: New study: Amazon forest regeneration rates are much lower than previously thought)
Secondary forests were once seen as one of the most important tools in the fight against climate change, as forests were able to absorb large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. Secondary forests are forests that have been harvested or destroyed and recovered.
The latest findings show that even after 60 years of regeneration, the secondary forests of the Bragansa region absorb only about 40 per cent of the carbon from the original forests. The study also found that secondary forests absorbed less carbon from the atmosphere during droughts, and that climate change was leading to more dry years in the Amazon.
The researchers say the findings will have a significant impact on climate change projections, as secondary forests’ ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere may have been overestimated.
In addition to helping to combat climate change, secondary forests can also provide important habitats for endangered species. However, the researchers found that secondary forests had only 56 percent of the biodiversity levels of the local undisturbed forests, and that no increase in species diversity was found during 20 years of monitoring.
The researchers note that the growing area of secondary forests in the Amazon region and their potential in mitigating climate change are of global importance, so more long-term research is needed to better understand the resilience of secondary forests and to select areas that can be significant for combating climate change and protecting biodiversity. In addition, in addition to vigorous afforestation in the well-harvested areas, more determined measures need to be taken to protect the virgin forests.