57 percent of the 15,000 tree species in the Amazon forest could disappear if deforestation in the area continues. Having endured deforestation for decades, the Amazon could cease being one of the most diverse plant communities on Earth.

After comparing previous and current maps of projected deforestation to estimate the total number of tree species lost, a research has inferred that 8,690 tree species are likely to qualify as threatened under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List (IUCN) of the Threatened Species criteria.

“Forests in the Amazon have been declining since the 1950s, but there was a poor understanding of how this has affected populations of individual species,” said Carlos Peres, professor at the University of East Anglia, The Guardian reports.

“We’ve never had a good idea of how many Amazonian species were vulnerable,” Nigel Pitman, a tropical ecologist at the Field Museum in Chicago, told the New York Times. “And now, with this study, we’ve got an estimate.”

Fortunately, over the last 50 years, Amazon countries have created a large network of protected areas and indigenous territories that now cover 52.2 percent of the Amazon basin. This could help prevent the further deterioration of Amazonian tree population.

The protected areas and indigenous territories currently covers half of the basin that possibly contain a significant population of the threatened species. Preventing deforestation within these areas starting now, 2015, through 2050 could significantly decrease the number of Amazonian tree species at risk of vanishing.

Still, a large portion of the protected areas in the Amazon have no budget, management plan or at least a qualified personnel to watch over it, the EurekaAlert! reports. Furthermore, the need for cattle pasture, wood, housing space and farming space is likely to increase as globalization continues to develop. This will make deforestation even more rampant.

"It's a battle we're going to see play out in our lifetimes," said William Laurance, research professor of James Cook University, told EurekaAlert. "Either we stand up and protect these critical parks and indigenous reserves, or deforestation will erode them until we see large-scale extinctions."

Contact the writer at feedback@ibtimes.com.au or tell us what you think below.