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The Amazon is the largest tropical forest on Earth, covering around 2.3 million square miles. It reduces air pollution and helps to regulate the world's oxygen and carbon cycles, as well as creating its own precipitation to provide communities with water.
In a new paper, published in the journal Environment, Professor Robert Toovey Walker warns the Amazon stands on the verge of a 'tipping point' and that the change is all down to human activity which we are 'all responsible' for.
Walker, who is a professor of Latin American Studies and Geography at the University of Florida predicts the Amazon will transition from a 'moist forest' to a 'tropical savanna' over the next few decades.
Walker says local communities depend on the Amazon as a source of water and the Amazon's transition to a tropical savanna will also mean 'the magnitude of the catastrophe will be worse than heretofore imagined' in 44 years' time.
The professor also explains that a 'collapse' of environmental governance in Amazonian nations such as Brazil has renewed concerns about the rainforest's fate.
He writes in the paper: "These concerns - recently intensified by Amazonian fires in the summer of 2019 - have put the focus on regional climate changes capable of inducing a 'tipping point' beyond which the moist forest transitions to a tropical savanna.
"This could happen in a number of ways but would probably include some combination of changes in average annual precipitation and dry-season intensity."
He adds: "It is doubtful that the Amazonian forest will remain resilient to changes in the regional hydroclimate.
"The biggest concern involves intensification of drought-based tree mortality stemming from the synergies of fire, deforestation, and logging.
"The development of Amazonia now lies on a collision course not only with the interests of conservation but also with the welfare of the very people it is meant to benefit."