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New platform in Brazil gathers data on the Cerrado

Dunes of Jalapão, in Tocantins. Photo: vanessaobrzut / Pixabay. Source: Mongabay Brazil

per  on 18 February 2021, via Mongabay Brazil

  • Virtual and collaborative tool created by the Federal University of Goiás seeks to gather the largest and oldest collection on the Cerrado already available in the country.

  • The Cerrado Knowledge Platform will always be updated and aims to be a national reference on the biome, to unify access to researchers for the preservation of the biome.
  • Bilingual, the tool includes figures on deforestation, land use, biodiversity and socioeconomics. Users can also contribute by inserting data, maps and geospatial information.
  • Its creators believe that the site can provide solid knowledge to support researchers in public policies or programs for the conservation of a biome that has already lost more than 50% of its native vegetation.

Monitoring the devastation of the Cerrado in recent decades is a necessary exercise, especially since the disappearance of the biome compromises water and food security in Brazil. The most biodiverse savanna on the planet has already lost 55% of its native vegetation and it is surprising that it is better known as the “barn of the world” than for its invaluable socio-environmental contribution.

In an effort to bring accurate data, throw a spotlight on the situation and help make decisions about biome management, the Image Processing and Geoprocessing Laboratory of the Federal University of Goiás (LAPIG / UFG) launched at the end of last year the Cerrado Knowledge Platform.

The virtual, bilingual and collaborative tool allows to chronologically identify the situation of land use and the socioeconomy of the biome, associating physical factors, social and biodiversity data, through the crossing of data, including aerial images.

Image of the Cerrado Knowledge Platform. Source: Mongabay Brazil

The Cerrado urgently needs to be known, only then will we have the chance to save it. Its devastation is the result of public actions and policies, which since 1970 have been transforming the savannah landscape to benefit agribusiness. It is necessary to change this idea of 'granary' that people have about the region ”, says professor Ivanilton Oliveira, director of the Institute of Socioenvironmental Studies at UFG, in which LAPIG is inserted.

From a hydrological point of view, the Cerrado is home to three of the aquifers that supply the country: Guarani, Urucuia and Bambuí. The ecology of the Pantanal, the largest floodplain in the world, depends on the water flowing from the Cerrado, while most of the southern tributaries of the Amazon River also originate in this ecosystem. The biome also provides water for human consumption and agriculture through surface runoff, underground recharge and through flows in the atmosphere for the formation of rain in various regions of the country - a resource benefited by the central location of the Cerrado, connecting several biomes.

The platform, produced with financing from foreign institutions through the Partnership Fund for Critical Ecosystems (CEPF), took about six months to be consolidated. The collective effort involved UFG and several partners, including NGOs, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations (MCTIC / Inpe), Public Ministry of Goiás and Mapbiomas.

Divided into three subplatforms - Socio-environmental, Aerial Images and Deforestation -, the site also brings statistical data from 1985 to 2019, geoprocessing tutorials, photo collection and digital library for books and scientific articles related to the biome. All were contributed by public, private, academic and environmental organizations.

In the virtual environment, it is possible to identify, for example, territorial conflicts or conflicts over water in indigenous lands, conservation units, rural properties and quilombola territories, denounced by the Pastoral Land Commission. The tool allows you to view results by state, municipality or geographic location of your own interest.

It is also possible to visualize cartographically a clear division in the current landscape of the biome: the center-south has already been greatly transformed by cattle farming and the expansion of the agricultural frontier (specifying the main types of cultivation), advancing towards the north of the country, especially in the Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia (region known as Matopiba).

Soy cultivation in western Bahia. Photo: Fernanda Ligabue / Greenpeace. Source: Mongabay Brazil

“Swiss Army Knife”

According to Paulo Cícero Lopes, master's student in Geography at Unimontes, in Montes Claros (MG), participating in one of the training courses for using the platform, it is a very solid, intuitive and clear tool for anyone looking for accurate data. “Having everything in an environment only allows analysis not only for environmental organizations, but also for the government, since they are data that can improve the planning of the territory. I would say it is a Swiss army knife: it gives a view of the Cerrado as a whole and will help us to implement the good management we need for the natural resources of this hotspot ”, the forehead.

Manuel Ferreira, professor at UFG and general coordinator of the initiative, reveals that the source of inspiration was Global Forest Watch: “Of course, there are several platforms that provide information about the Cerrado; however, gathering this enormous knowledge on a single platform favors researchers from Brazil and the world in order to find and cross-reference this data more easily ”.

The professor reinforces that the platform is unprecedented in Brazil and reiterates the need for the dissemination and collaboration of agencies and institutions in the constant updating of data:

“In the 'Contribute to the Platform' section, there is a form to be filled out and an environment for uploading files. After an evaluation by our technical team, the material can be made publicly available, accompanied by due credits and context. ”

“Our intention is to be a national reference for those who research the Cerrado. In three months we already have a lot of content, but we count on the contribution of the academic community, public agencies and civil society in favor of the preservation of the biome ”, concludes the professor at UFG.

The creators have already conducted four online training courses to access the tool, which can be accessed on here.

Access the article in the website from Mongabay Brazil.

LAPIG and CEPF Cerrado

Dr. Manuel Ferreira has been working with a team of researchers and civil society institutions on the project. “Cerrado Knowledge Platform”. The project is executed by Image Processing and Geoprocessing Laboratory (LAPIG) and has the support of Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF, in English for Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund) and Brazilian International Institute of Education (IEB) and aims to share data, information and knowledge among various stakeholders in the Cerrado and empower civil society through reliable information and tools for monitoring Cerrado ecosystems.

The Image Processing and Geoprocessing Laboratory (LAPIG) It is linked to the Institute of Social and Environmental Studies (IESA) of the Federal University of Goiás (UFG). Its activities began in 1994 and have since contributed to the elaboration of several monographs, dissertations and theses, as well as offering remote sensing, digital cartography and geographic information systems. In 2010, they started the “Geocourses”, an extension project that offers short and medium courses in the field of geotechnologies, offered to the community in general. The research is an important front for the production and / or organization of geographic and documentary data for territorial and environmental monitoring of Brazilian biomes and their natural and anthropic landscapes.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of the French Development Agency, Conservation International, the European Union, Global Environmental Management, the Government of Japan and the World Bank. A key goal is to ensure that civil society is involved in biodiversity conservation.


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