If the Amazon Rainforest was a country, it would be the 9th biggest in the world. The rainforest has many important functions. It is home to a huge variety of different plants and animals. It also acts like a large carbon sink (a storage place for carbon) by sucking it up from the atmosphere and storing it in plants and soil. This slows down global climate change and is another reason why it is so important to preserve our rainforests.
Researchers worry that large parts of the Amazon could change from forest to savanna if put under pressure from drought or deforestation. They are concerned that it would then be very hard for the forests to recover again.
We carried out a data analysis to look at the factors that can cause a shift in state from forest to savanna (or the other way around) and to look at the effect of humans. To explain our observations, we made a mathematical model that takes into account natural tree growth and deforestation. Our evidence suggests that the Amazon rainforest is not as fragile as previously thought.