As Amazon forest-to-savanna tipping point looms, solutions remain elusive

As Amazon forest-to-savanna tipping point looms, solutions remain elusive

When a swarm of bees attacked Acrísio dos Reis, something within him shifted. “Nature was lashing back at me,” he remembered, as he spoke by phone with Mongabay from his small rural farmstead in the Brazilian Amazon. The bee assault befell dos Reis as he drove a heavy-duty tractor through the rainforest, knocking down many dozens of trees — a field clearing process he’d carried out for 25 years. But that particular morning marked a sea change: the first time he realized the true harm of deforestation. Today, having given up bulldozing trees, dos Reis runs a sustainable family agroforestry business in his hometown of Canabrava do Norte, in Mato Grosso state. He detects with alarm the growing impacts of climate change on the region, as local water levels fall and tropical heat intensifies. Scientists back up his observation; the Amazon Basin climate is already in flux due to regional deforestation and fires, combined with planet-wide warming, resulting in much less rain, higher temperatures, and a longer dry season at the southern edges of the Amazon forest. Dos Reis and researchers believe they’re seeing the first signs of a climate and biome tipping point, as the Amazon becomes less like a rainforest and more like a degraded savanna. This news is bad for everyone: for crops and farmers like dos Reis, for forests and wildlife, and for faraway urban populations reliant on the Amazon for the rainfall that supplies São Paulo and other Brazilian mega cities with water. A bulldozer…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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