Amazon Tipping Point

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Science Advances  21 Feb 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 2, eaat2340
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat2340

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  • RE: Amazon Tipping Point
    • Danielle Celentano, Professor, researcher, Agroecology Graduate Program (PPG Agroecologia), State University of Maranhão (UEMA).
    • Other Contributors:
      • Gilda Vasconcellos de Andrade, Professor, researcher, Biodiversity and Conservation Graduate Program. Federal University of Maranhão (UFMA)
      • Nivaldo de Figueiredo, Professor, researcher, Federal University of Maranhão (UFMA)
      • Guillaume Xavier Rousseau, Professor, researcher, Agroecology Graduate Program (PPG Agroecologia), State University of Maranhão (UEMA).

    Close to the Edge: Where the Amazon Drought Begins

    In Brazil, the risk of Amazon savannization (1) occurs together with Caatinga and Cerrado (Brazilian Savanna) desertification (2). In the state of Maranhão (33,2 million hectares), natural and cultural diversity are extraordinary due to its particular position in the transition between these biomes. Nonetheless, the state faces water shortages and severe poverty (3); this picture can worsen with IPCC climate change prognosis of precipitation drop and lack of climate smart policies.

    In the Amazon, 75% of the forest coverage was cut down; the remainder is threatened by illegal deforestation and forest fires (4). Indigenous people are victim of violence associated with deforestation. Rivers are dying because of silting, a consequence of land degradation and high geological vulnerability. Lost biodiversity is unknown by science. Although Maranhão has passed the deforestation “tipping point”, no policies for “Zero Deforestation” or land restoration are being implemented yet.

    In Cerrado, replacement of natural ecosystem by single-cropping recycles 60% less water, reducing precipitation (5). However, up to 6.7 million hectares of native vegetation is legally available for agricultural conversion in Maranhão (6). The government endorses this trend through a tax reduction on crops as soybean (7) and infrastructure investment for commodity exportation. Commodity prices boost land speculation (8). Expropriation a...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

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