Amazon logging damage: now with twice the depressingness

You know all that damage logging has done to the Amazon rainforest? It’s not as bad as you thought. It’s twice as bad! Researchers have developed a way to wring far more detail out of satellite photos, a bittersweet accomplishment in light of the results. Turns out the practice of illegal “selective logging” — removing individual commercially valuable trees rather than whole swaths of forest, to better conceal the devilry — is “much more widespread than previously thought,” says Greg Asner, lead author of a study published today in Science. In fact, depending on the region examined, overall forest damage is anywhere from 60 to 123 percent worse than previously reported. Selective logging, if conducted heedlessly (as one assumes illegal loggers conduct it), can damage surrounding trees and vegetation, increase soil erosion, hurt endangered species, increase the risk of forest fires, and dramatically reduce the ability of forests to serve as “carbon sinks.” Otherwise it’s peachy.