The Amazon Forest in South America is the largest rain forest on Earth and harbors an estimated 15% of all plant species. It stabilizes the climate of South America and stores more than 100 trillion tons of carbon, thus helping to mitigate global warming. Despite its biological importance and wealth of ecosystem services, the Amazon Forest faces tremendous threat, including widespread deforestation, unsustainable development, and increasing drought and wildfire. Its biodiversity is still incompletely known, and many large areas within the Amazon remain inaccessible and understudied. Dr. Benjamin Torke will report on his efforts to compile botanical inventories of protected areas in an understudied and threatened part of the Brazilian Amazon, the basin of the Tapajós River, and will discuss some of the challenges that he has encountered along the way. He will also report on concerning trends in climate, wildfire, and deforestation in the region and discuss strategies for avoiding a projected collapse of the ecosystem.
Benjamin Torke, Associate Curator in the Institute of Systematic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden