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Study: Rainforest ecosystems at risk

Aug. 6, 2010 at 3:04 PM   |   Comments

PALO ALTO, Calif., Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Up to 80 percent of the world's rainforests could be destroyed by climate change by the next century, a study of ecosystems says.

A report by the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology in California says that by 2100 the world's rainforests, home to half of all the plant and animal species on Earth, will undergo profound changes, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

Climate change and deforestation could force species to move, adapt or die, the study said.

"For those areas of the globe projected to suffer most from climate change," research leader Greg Asner said, "land managers could focus their efforts on reducing the pressure from deforestation, thereby helping species adjust to climate change, or enhancing their ability to move in time to keep pace with it."

Asner and his team studied global deforestation and logging maps from satellite imagery and data from 16 climate-change projections worldwide.

By 2100, this could have an impact on two-thirds of the rainforests in Central and South America and about 70 percent in Africa, they say.

Projections based on this data show only somewhere between a fifth and a half of tropical rainforest plants and animals we know today may remain by 2100, the study says.

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