According to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, over the last decade the Amazon rainforest released more carbon than it stored, with degradation of the forests causing more carbon loss than deforestation.
Degradation is where a forest still exists, but it’s health declines to the point that it is unable to function or support life. According to WWF, forest degradation (in terms of land mass) is an even bigger problem than deforestation.
Climate change is a big driver for degradation, as it can cause rising temperatures, leading to forest fires and disease. Irresponsible logging also contributes, leaving cracked, dry soil and sparse clearings. It also leads to further deforestation as more and more logging companies are encouraged to follow once a forest is already degraded.