Wildfires may grab headlines but indigenous peoples and local communities who depend the Amazon face many different threats. Not only are their territories targeted for illegal extractive activities such as gold mining and deforestation but without clear land titles their situation remains legally precarious. But more than this — indigenous peoples and local communities offer a scalable, climate solution, as recently recognised in the UN IPCC Land Use report. In the Peruvian Amazon the community of Boca Parimanu, the Amahuaca peoples tread this difficult balance.
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As mysterious as it is breathtaking, the Amazon remains one of the most written about and studied ecosystems on earth. Two and a half million square miles, to be precise. In fact, if it were a country itself, it would be the ninth largest in the world. For some more perspective, The United Kingdom and Ireland could fit into it 17 times over. Although these numbers are contentious, best scientific estimates suggest there are at least 40, plant species, 3, types of fish, 1, bird species, mammals, and a staggering 2.
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Researchers report that large-scale commercial farms on deforested land in the southern Amazon result in higher temperature increases and less rainfall than small-scale farms. Deforestation has converted swaths of land in the southern Amazon region from rainforest to farmland. The uses of the deforested land are diverse, and activities can range from small-scale farming in rural settlements to large-scale commodity agriculture. Commercial farms in the Southern Amazon can reach hundreds of thousands of hectares in area, exporting millions of tons in grains and beef every year. Eduardo Maeda from the University of Helsinki and colleagues used satellite data to compare areas dominated by different land uses and farm sizes to evaluate their impacts on the regional climate.
More than four decades after the first Earth Day, there are still many environmental concerns for communities around the world to address; perhaps none so pressing as man-made climate change. But progress is being made, and it could be argued that awareness about environmental issues is at an all-time high. Image via Shutterstock. What You Can Do: Your home and transportation could be major sources of greenhouse gas emissions.