Over the past two decades, around 20 percent of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil has vanished.
Experts are concerned about another projected 20 percent reduction in the Amazon over the next 20 years if deforestation continues on its current course.
But don’t count Planet Earth out yet. There’s a significant effort underway to reverse the degradation of the rainforest which would go a long way toward curbing the negative effects of deforestation on our climate.
A new project spearheaded by Conservation International is aiming to re-invigorate the rainforests over the next six years. It will be the single largest reforestation effort in human history.
“If the world is to hit the 1.2°C or 2°C degrees of warming target that we all agreed to in Paris, then protecting tropical forests, in particular, has to be a big part of that,” says Conservation International CEO M. Sanjayan.
“It’s not just the trees that matter, but what kind of trees.” Sanjayan continued, “If you’re really thinking about getting carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, then tropical forests are the ones that end up mattering the most.”
The process is known as “muvuca” which is Portuguese for “a lot of people in a very small place.” The process will add seeds from 200 native tree species to the phosphorus-rich soil. A little dose of natural selection will allow the stronger seeds to flourish.
If successful, the project will add 73 million new trees to an area known as the “arc of deforestation.” Project leaders will initially add 70,000 acres of new forest. The new forests will have the ability to absorb nearly 37 percent of our carbon emissions per year.
“This is not a stunt,” Sanjayan says. “It is a carefully controlled experiment to literally figure out how to do tropical restoration at scale so that people can replicate it and we can drive the costs down dramatically.”
The project was designed to allow Brazil to add nearly 12 million hectares of land to meet its Paris Climate Agreement goals by 2030.