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The Amazon is bigger than what’s on the map

By February 14, 2020 No Comments
map, biome

map, biomeA study recently published by the journal Biodiversity and Conservation shows that the Amazon may be larger than it appears on the map. This is because the current maps, according to the research, do not accurately portray the division between savanna and forest biomes.

The scientific article was previously published last year and the final version should come out later this year.

Six researchers participating in the study are part of the Graduate Program in Ecology and Conservation, from the State University of Mato Grosso (Unemat); Department of Forestry Engineering, University of Brasília (UnB); Center for Biological Sciences of Nature, Federal University of Acre (Ufac) and the Department of Zoology, also from (UnB).

The biologist with a doctorate in forest sciences from Ufac, Henrique Mews, is one of those who signed the article. According to him, new technologies show that the division of the biomes of the cerrado and Amazonian forest cannot be done by lines, but rather transitory strips, which end up forming a unique place that needs to be considered.

“Before this research, the limit of these biomes was marked by a line, so it was very simple, the technology was very simple in the past. With the advance, with the satellite images and our field knowledge in the region of the South of the Amazon, we realized that it was not that simple. A car trip already reveals to you that sometimes you find the forest, now it is closed again, all in the same route ”, he explains.

What the study proposes is that there is an update and that these areas are considered in the delimitation of the biome. Therefore, this would cause the map as we currently know it to change.

“With the help of satellite, we realized that that mapping of the 70’s was no longer realistic and we needed to modernize it. We made it for a slightly smaller sample area, and then we managed to show that, in fact, a line is not realistic, we need to consider a transition strip and this strip has, in our sample universe, from 40 km to 250 km of extension, it would be a vegetation that is neither savannah nor savannah, it is transitional, it mixes both ”, he highlights.

Map change

The study shows that the old delimitation of these biomes is no longer realistic. In addition, it also shows that these transition areas, in which there are two biomes, are a unique space, called ecotones, and the most affected in the last 30 years.

“In proportional terms, the transition area was more deforested than the savannah of the cerrado and the Amazon rainforest and this is very worrying, because this area is neither one nor the other, it is unique”, he says.

The article, published in a renowned international magazine, indicates that the map of biomes in Brazil needs to be changed. The proposal, according to Mews, is that the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) recognize the study or use the same methodology to make this reclassification of biomes.

“If they use this new technology, it would change [the map], because they would have to show the clearest transition band, showing that the forests are not so high, they are lower, more dense, with processes that only occur there”, ends.

Further study

IBGE informed that it is aware of the article and stressed that it uses remote sensing in the mappings made today. The agency also stressed that a change in the current map would require a more in-depth study.

“This transition strip [between vegetations] is very anthropized [degradation process made by humans] and for claims of belonging to the Amazon, they should have deeper studies. In the case of IBGE, we use the knowledge of other natural resources and their interrelationships to attribute these transition strips to one or another biome ”, highlights the note.