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[ARTICLE] Leadership changes and illegal mining put increasing pressure on Amazon rainforest

The New York Times recently published a front-page article about the growing scourge of illegal mining and logging that has deforested and polluted portions of the Amazon rainforest and one indigenous tribe's struggle to confront extraction on their land. This issue has become critical given 1) Brazil's election of Jair Bolsonaro as president, who has openly spoken about economic exploitation of the Amazon; and 2) the fact that the Amazon rainforest -- the world's largest repository of terrestrial carbon and greatest repository of biodiversity -- is already quite close to a tipping point towards dieback in the south and east. Tom is quoted in the article (the only American to be quoted, in

ABC's tree census: the longest-running study on tropical tree growth

We are finishing up our quinquennial (every five years) tree census at our research reserve. A central part of the work of the Amazon Biodiversity Center -- one of our flagship studies -- is the collection of data on the effects of fragmentation on tropical rainforests. Since its inception in 1979, the forest fragments project has monitored 94 hectares (232 acres) of forest plots -- 69 one-hectare plots and one 25-hectare plot. Every five years, the project conducts a tree census, tagging, collecting data on, and cataloging every tree larger than 10 cm in diameter. The data is then compiled into a database -- the longest-running dataset of its kind -- to enable researchers to study the l

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