Humanity’s impact on South American ecosystems expanded by 268 million hectares (1 million square miles) since 1985 as vast swathes of forest and grassland were converted for agricultural use, disturbed by logging or infrastructure, or urbanized, finds an analysis published in Science Advances.   Using satellite imagery to detect change in land cover, a team of researchers from the University of Maryland and other institutions found that 713 million hectares (2.75 million square miles), or 40% of South America’s landmass, had been impacted by human activity by 2018. That area represents a 60% increase relative to the extent of impact in 1985. “Nearly one-fifth of the South American continent underwent some type of land cover/land use change over our study period,” the authors, led by the University of Maryland’s Viviana Zalles, wrote. “The single most significant land change dynamic was the conversion of intact and degraded natural tree cover.” Human impact across South American regions categorized by degree of modification or conversion and the intensity of land use and natural land cover type. “Pan-Amazon” includes the combined area of Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Suriname, French Guiana, and Guyana and excludes Brazil. Lower insert shows percent increase over the study period for all human impact classes and for land cover/use change classes only (“seminatural land and secondary forest” and “land use” categories, excluding tree cover degradation dynamics). Image credit: Zalles et al 2021 The region’s tropical rainforests were the most affected. “The tropical rainforest ecozone, which is primarily made up…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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