The good news is that 80% of the Amazon’s original forest is largely intact – compromised at its margins but healthy in its remote core.
The bad news is that its landscapes and habitats, which have been under siege for decades, now face even larger pressures driven by the demands of international markets and aggravated by the effects of climate change. Uncontrolled colonization along roads, logging, agriculture, cattle ranching, mining, and oil and gas operations have reduced the Amazon forest by between 17,000 km2 and 27,000 km2 a year since 1990. That means that every year the Amazon loses a forested area nearly the size of Belgium.
The effects could be catastrophic. Already at least a fifth of global CO2 emissions are the result of deforestation in the tropics, a large percentage from the Amazon. But the region is also affected by global warming: scientists agree that little more of the original Amazon forest cover can be lost if we are to sustain the water cycles and other climatic conditions that are the prerequisite for its existence. Further significant deforestation could trigger large-scale and probably unstoppable deterioration of the biome.