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New Study found that half of Amazon Tree species are threatened with Extinction

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November 24
8:13 PM 2015

A new study has found that deforestation could lead to the extinction of up to half the species of trees in the Amazon.

According to the Washington Post a new study published Friday in the Journal Science Advances has found that 36 to 57 percent of all species of trees in the Amazon are at risk of extinction if deforestation continues. This increased the figure of threatened plant species in the world by up to 22 percent.

The researched used spatial distribution models with both historical and projected deforestation data on the Amazon to find out the status of conservation of over 15,000 tree species in the region. It used the threatened species list from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). There were 158 scientists from 22 different countries involved in the study.

"Forests in the Amazon have been declining since the 1950s, but [until now] there was a poor understanding of how this has affected populations of individual species," said one of the scientists in the study University of East Anglia Professor Carlos Peres in a report by The Guardian. "Protected areas and indigenous territories now cover over half of the Amazon basin. But forests and reserves still face a barrage of threats, from dam construction and mining, to wildfires and droughts intensified by global warming."

In a report by the Independent, the lead researcher Nigel Pitman from the Field Museum in Chicago said the report doesn't necessarily mean the environmental situation in the Amazon suddenly became worse for trees, instead they are just providing estimates of how historical deforestation has affected the trees. The study also seeks to inform how continued deforestation will affect the tree species in the future.

The authors of the study used inventory data from the Amazon Tree Diversity Network. It has 1,700 tree inventory plots from all over the Amazon. There was a similar study conducted on Amazonian plants in 2009. The present study confirms some of the major finds in that study.

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