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Nature in peril: scientists make alarming discovery about extinction

Yulia PoteriankoLife
Both the cold northern mountain forests and the tropical forests are disappearing from the face of the Earth.

Climate change and other human impacts continue to have a devastating effect on nature. And this is confirmed by the findings of a fresh study conducted by a team of scientists from the University of Leeds and the Southern University of Science and Technology in China.

As writes the publication The Guardian, they published their findings in the journal One Earth. According to the scientists, since 2001, the Earth has lost more mountain forests than the U.S. state of Texas. And this process is accelerating at an alarming rate.

Scientists have found that over the past two decades, 78 million hectares of mountain forest have been lost worldwide, more than 7% of this type of forest. The main reasons for this loss are attributed to logging, agricultural expansion and forest fires.

Meanwhile mountains are home to more than 85% of the world's birds, mammals and amphibians. Because of their inaccessibility, mountain forests were, until recently, considered a safer environment for them than their lowland equivalents. However, people began to develop these areas as well, damaging them.

Researchers estimate that logging accounts for 42% of mountain forest losses, forest fires for 29%, slash-and-burn agriculture for 15%, and semi-permanent or permanent agriculture for 10%. Scientists studied changes in these ecosystems from 2001 to 2018. They documented both increases and decreases in tree cover, as well as identifying possible impacts on biodiversity. The analysis found that Asia, South America, Africa, Europe, and Australia were hit hard. And most of the losses in North Asia were caused by wildfires, especially the uncontrolled disasters in Russia. Droughts and wildfires also caused significant losses in Australia. And in the highlands of Southeast Asia, the expansion of agriculture and logging was a key factor. Over the period studied, more than half of global forest loss occurred in Asia.

The researchers pointed out that the climate crisis is now putting pressure on mountain wildlife. Rising average temperatures are forcing species to move higher into the mountains. And this could mean that at some point they are likely to run out of opportunities to find a new home and accelerate extinction.

And more than 40 percent of the total loss occurs in tropical mountain forests, which are considered hotbeds of biodiversity, putting even more pressure on endangered species. A way to combat the problem scientists have named the creation of protected areas in the hottest spots. This greatly slows down the loss of biodiversity.

Earlier OBOZREVATEL wrote about a deadly disease which can spread worldwide due to global warming.

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