The Amazon forest spans more than five million km2 and is by far the world’s largest rainforest area,1 representing some 55–60% of all rainforest. The well-known reduction of deforestation in Brazil since 2004 is globally significant, and demonstrates that controlling deforestation is possible with resolute government action and compatible with economic development. The situation in the Amazon varies, however, from consistently very low deforestation rates in the Guyana Shield region, to deforestation peaks of more than 11,000 km2 for a single state in a single year (Mato Grosso in 2004) at the height of the soy boom. In Peru, the second largest Amazon country, deforestation rates have been lower than in many other rainforest countries, but recent reports show alarmingly high rates of forest degradation. In all Amazon countries large-scale development plans represent major threats to the rainforest and the traditional occupation and use of natural resources by indigenous peoples. A recent assessment concludes that the accumulated pressure from infrastructure such as roads and dams, and extractive activities for oil, gas and minerals – but not including the pressure from agriculture and logging – may cause as much as half of the Amazon forest to disappear in the near future.
From collection: State of the Rainforest