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Virginia Tech scientists work to save the Amazon rainforest and its biodiversity

Aug. 17, 2015 – The Amazon’s vast rainforests, rivers, and soils are rich ecosystems vital to the basic functions of the planet. They churn moisture into the atmosphere, sequester carbon, regulate climate patterns, and house much of the world’s biodiversity.

But those extensive and interconnected ecosystems are increasingly threatened by unsustainable agriculture, exploitative commercial fishing, and other practices.

Economists, fisheries and wildlife biologists, and international policy experts in the College of Natural Resources and Environment work in the Amazon’s ecosystems to reshape how land and natural resources are managed.

For almost two decades, economists Frank Merry and Gregory Amacher have been at the forefront of land-use change modeling in the Brazilian Amazon. Using computers to generate models helps decision-makers see the short- and long-term effects of proposed land uses. Their models that forecast land use in logging, ranching, and agriculture have led the way in the design of climate-related policies, including the UN-REDD Programme.

In addition, Merry, a research associate professor in the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, and Amacher, the department’s Julian N. Cheatham Professor of Natural Resource Economics, have long sought to address the problems faced by poor settlement families on the forest frontier.  (continue reading.........)

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