The Amazon is now a net carbon producer, but there’s still time to reverse the damage | Ane Alencar and Adriane Esquivel Muelbert

The Amazon is now a net carbon producer, but there’s still time to reverse the damage | Ane Alencar and Adriane Esquivel Muelbert

Brazil’s rainforest stores a huge amount of CO2. As it’s released at record rates, we may have passed a tipping point

The Amazon acts as a vital organ for our entire planet. The largest rainforest in the world, it provides an important function to both the Earth’s water and carbon cycles. The region, home to abundant and highly diverse species and ecosystems, houses more than 390bn trees. These have an exceptional capacity to recycle water by pumping it from the soil back up into the atmosphere, but also play a crucial role in storing carbon: the Amazon forest stores an amount of carbon equivalent to two to three times all the CO2 emitted by the UK since 1750. When trees die, either by natural causes or deforestation, this carbon can return to the atmosphere.

Related: Amazon rainforest now emitting more CO2 than it absorbs

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