On Friday the environmental ministry of Brazil announced that it will begin the four-year task of cataloguing trees in the country’s Amazon rainforest.
The project is part of Brazil’s effort to better monitor and protect the Amazon—the world’s largest tropical rainforest. In 2009, the government committed to reduce deforestation by 80 percent by 2020. The census should help with this mission, as well as to assess damage caused by climate change. Drought currently afflicts an area of rainforest twice the size of California.
Teams will spread out across the country’s 3,288,000 square miles and sample about 20,000 points at 12.5-mile intervals. At each site, researchers will record the number, height, diameter and species of trees, as well as the soil types, biomass carbon stocks and local people’s interactions with the forest.
Brazil is home to about half of the world’s remaining tropical forest, and this project will be its most comprehensive national inventory in 40 years.