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How Many Trees are in the Amazon? Brazil to Count Them All

how_many_trees_are_in_the_amazon_imageDespite the immense deforestation that's razing South America's Amazon rainforest at a frightening speed—as much as 6,000 square miles every year—the tropical jungle area is still massive beyond comprehension.

The Amazon represents more than half of the tropical rainforests left on the planet, which are home to countless species of animals, insects, and plants. Much of the world's tropical forest deforestation is being done to make way for soy and palm oil farming, cattle raising, and other development projects displacing animals like Borneo's orangutan, which is now in great danger of extinction because of recent demands for palm oil.

Besides plants and animals, thousands of tribal cultures depend on the rainforests of the planet as well. Many call them home and make their livelihood in harvesting sustainably sourced food, plant medicines, and other valuable renewable resources. Although it's somewhat hard to believe, there are documented cases of several "untouched" tribes still living deep within the forest that have had virtually no contact with the outside world. Ever. Brazil recently confirmed the presence of a small 200-person tribe living near the Peruvian border.

amazon_rainforest_ecosystems_imageBrazil, which is home to 60 percent of the Amazon, clocks in at more than 3.2 million square miles of forest vital for the local communities and ecosystems as well as the world itself. The Amazon produces at least 20 percent of all the earth's oxygen, making it a most vital resource for the planet.

Now, Brazilian officials want to take the country's relationship to the Amazon to an even more intimate level. The National Forest Inventory is going to conduct a "tree census" over the next four years. That's right; Brazil is going to count all the trees in more than 3 million acres of forest. Brazilian Forestry Minister Antonio Carlos Hummel said, " We are going to come to know the rainforest from within." It's the most comprehensive type of census the country has done in three decades.

The team will traverse the Amazon, taking samples from some 20,000 points every 20 kilometers in the jungles and forests. The researchers will note the tree species, its height, diameter, and take soil samples as well as note the local human interactions in the region.

Once leading the way in rainforest destruction, Brazil is now highly invested in conservation of its great resource. Last year, fewer than 2,000 square miles of Brazilian Amazon were deforested. According to FastCoExist:

trees_in_amazon_brazil_to_count_them_all_image"The country has publicly committed to reducing deforestation by 80 percent below 2004 levels by 2020. It’s well on its way: the environment ministry said deforestation was down 76.27 percent compared to its baseline, well ahead of schedule.

The Inventory should help those gains stick. Just as the U.S. Census helps formulate social and economic policy, Brazil plans to shape its policies and planning around the forest data, says Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira. "Brazilian society does not have enough information about the country’s forests," said Teixeira in a USAID statement, a partner in the initiative along with the U.S. Forest Service. "This will be able to convince decision makers from different sectors to provide permanent resources for forests."

For more info on rainforests, and why they're being destroyed, visit

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