In the last two decades, deforestation and forest fires have encroached on the ranges of thousands of plant and animal species in the Amazon rainforest, including up to 85 percent of threatened species in the region, researchers report in Nature. Since 2001, an area up to the size of Washington State has burned.
Biodiversity contributes to the ecological and climatic stability of the Amazon Basin but is increasingly threatened by deforestation and fire. The year 2019 fires stands out as one of the most extreme years for biodiversity impacts since 2009, when forest regulations were enforced. In 2019, the relaxation of deforestation policies in Brazil resulted in increased degradation of species ranges and habitats.
Affected species include up to 85 percent of the 610 considered threatened so vulnerable to extinction or already endangered or critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This category includes as many as 264 kinds of plants, 107 amphibians and 55 mammals. In 2019 alone, over 12,000 species experienced fire somewhere in their geographic range.