On February 25 and 26, over 50 scientists gathered for a two-day workshop in Manaus, Brazil, to discuss the current state of knowledge on the feedbacks between deforestation and climate in the Amazon and what research is required to avoid catastrophic change. Collaborators from the Woods Hole Research Center, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Duke University, Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amaznia, Harvard University, Universidade Federal de Viosa, University of Wisconsin Madison, Oxford University, University of Edinburgh, The United Kingdom Meteorology Office and the Brazilian center for weather forecasting and climate studies (CPTEC) participated.
Professor Virgilio Viana, Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Development of Amazonas State, Brazil, opened the workshop with comments on the visionary program of the Amazonas State Government. Viana emphasized that Amazonas has become a model of sustainable, forest-based development by replacing the previous paradigm, which assumed that forests were nothing but unproductive land, with the understanding that forests are worth more standing than cut.
The workshop focused on how to reduce the risk of a vicious cycle of forest impoverishment in which forest clearing and degradation foster drought and further degradation. Dan Nepstad, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center acknowledged that forest die-back has already begun, noting that uncontrolled fires from poor farming practices were degrading large swaths of the southern Amazon and making them susceptible to further fires and drought. However, he also emphasized that it is a time of hope because large-scale conservation is gaining momentum, driven by the Brazilian government, which is implementing its "Amazon Region Protected Area" program to greatly expand and police protected areas and by commodities markets (soy, beef, ethanol), which are driving compliance with environmental and social legislation by farmers.'/>"/>
|Contact: Elizabeth Braun|
Woods Hole Research Center