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Nov 22, 2015 10:18 AM EST

Amazon trees at risk of extinction


Scientists have found that half the species of Amazon's trees may be threatened with extinction because of massive deforestation, reports.

The study is published in Friday's edition of Science Advances.

An international team of 158 scientists found that between 36 and 57 percent of the 16,000 tree species in the tropical rainforest area are threatened.

The range and extent of extinction depends on the degree to which deforestation comes under control in the next 35 years.

The trees that produce Brazil nuts and mahogany are among the 5,000 tree species that are facing extinction.

Scientists say that if deforestation continues at the rate of deforestation prevalent in the 20th century and early 21st century, then nearly 8,700 tree types will be in trouble. 

"We've never had a good idea of how many species are threatened in the Amazon," said study coauthor Nigel Pitman, from the Field Museum in Chicago.

"Now with this study, we have an estimate."

Tim Killeen, a scientist from Agteca Amazonica in Bolivia, said that the tree that produces Brazil nuts is seriously under threat, while "mahogany is commercially extinct throughout the Amazon."

Duke University ecologist Stuart Pimm, who was not part of the study, said that the present study was important.

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