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How important is the Cerrado for global biodiversity?

Cerrado It is the largest hotspot in the Western Hemisphere, covering over 2 million km² in Brazil and smaller parts (around 1%) of Bolivia and Paraguay. The Cerrado biome is the second largest biome in South America, covering an area of 2,039,386 km², 24% of Brazil.



Recognized as a hot spot global biodiversity, the Cerrado stands out for its abundance of endemic species, housing approximately 12,070 cataloged native plant species, of which 34,9% (4,208) are endemic¹. The Cerrado contains 13.4% of all plant species in the neotropical region and 1.5% of all plant species in the world. The great diversity of habitats results in remarkable transitions between different vegetation types. A total of 251 species of mammals live in the Cerrado, along with rich avifauna, which comprises 856 species. The diversity of fish (800 species), reptiles (262 species) and amphibians (204 species) is also high. For these reasons, in biological terms, the Cerrado is considered one of the richest tropical savanna regions in the world².

Mauritia flexuosa, buriti / © Bento Viana. ISPN Collection

In addition to its environmental specificities, the Cerrado It also has great social importance. Many people depend on the natural resources that the biome offers to survive with quality of life, including indigenous groups, quilombolas, generators, riverine and babaçu coconut breakers, which are part of Brazil's historical and cultural heritage and share traditional knowledge of biodiversity. More than 220 species are known for medicinal use and many native fruits are regularly consumed by locals and sold in urban centers such as pequi (Caryocar brasiliense Cambess.), Buriti (Mauritania flexuosa Lf), mangaba (Hancornia speciosa Gomes), Cagaita (Eugenia dysenterica (Mart.) DC.), Bacupari (Salacia crassifolia (Mart. Ex Schult.) G.Don), araticum (Annona crassiflora Mart.) And baru (Dipteryx alata Vogel).

However, numerous species of plants and animals are threatened or at risk of extinction. It is estimated that 20% of native and endemic species are not protected by any of the legal protected areas and at least 339 species of animals that occur in the Cerrado are threatened with extinction, according to official lists. After the Atlantic Forest, the Cerrado is the Brazilian biome that suffered the most from human occupation. It is this combination of conditions, high biodiversity and high degree of threat from habitat loss that has made these two biomes a priority for investment in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services.

Despite the threats, knowledge about the biodiversity Cerrado has evolved significantly in the last decade. However, many gaps that still exist suggest the need for greater investments in inventories and studies for different biological groups³. Research shows that between 1998 and 2008, 1,300 new vertebrate species were described by scientists in Brazil4. Of these, 347 vertebrate species were found in Cerrado sites, 222 new fish species, 40 amphibians, 57 reptiles and 27 mammals. These revealing numbers reinforce the colossal biological relevance of the Cerrado.

Merganser / © Marcelo Ismar Santana. Amada Terra Institute Collection

With these data we have no doubt about the biological importance from the Cerrado. The size of this hotspot, the complexity of its environmental heterogeneity, the high levels of species endemism and the imminent threats pose a major challenge regarding the conservation of its biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as the promotion of more sustainable development in the region. , including inhabitants living in close contact with nature.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF, in English for Critical Ecosystem Partnership FundIt has been working since 2000 to ensure the participation and contribution of civil society in the conservation of some of the world's biologically rich but currently threatened ecosystems. The goal is to promote conservation in high priority biological areas and on a landscape scale. In 2013, the the CEPF Donor Council selected the Cerrado as one of the priority hotspots Priorities for conservation promotion investments between 2016 and 2021. To ensure that the CEPF strategy has a significant impact on biodiversity conservation in the hotspot, some investments focus on certain priority species and regions. In this sense, CEPF Cerrado works with a specific support line for the protection of threatened species in the hotspot, where six priority species among the 1,593 considered vulnerable or irreplaceable species were selected for investments. Learn about the species and projects that work to support their protection and conservation in the Cerrado:

Class Family Species Project
Magnoliopside Cactaceae Uebelmannia buiningii Ecology and recovery of Uebelmannia buiningiiJurumi Institute
Magnoliopside Fabaceae Dimorphandra wilsonii (wilson's faveiro) Handling and protection of wilson's faveiro – Society of Friends of the Belo Horizonte Zoo-Botanic Foundation
Birds Columbidae Columbina cyanopis (Plateau Roller) Saving the plateau roller and its unique habitat in the CerradoSAVE Brasil
Birds Thraupidae Sporophila maximiliani (pointed) Reintroduction of bicudo in key areas for the conservation of the CerradoAriramba Institute
Birds Anatidae Mergus octosetaceus (Merganser) Avoiding the Merganser Extinction Amada Terra Institute
Amphibia Hylidae Phyllomedusa / Pithecopus ayeaye Conservation of Pithecopus ayeaye, related species and their ecosystemsAraguaia Institute


Columbina cyanopis, Plateau Roller / © Ciro Albano. SAVE Brazil Collection

For the Cerrado, these six species which are highly threatened globally and have a National Action Plan (PAN), or are part of a regional, have been prioritized for CEPF investments. Through coordination with the National Action Plan Support Groups (GAPANs), priority actions established in the NAPs related to these priority species were identified. CEPF funding has also sought to support the implementation of these actions, especially those related to habitat management and protection. CEPF Cerrado's main objective is to improve the conservation status of these species.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund CEPF Cerrado it's the International Institute of Education of Brazil (IEB) work to contribute to the protection of these species and the conservation of the Cerrado by supporting projects in different regions of the biome. This support provides incentives for expansion and creation of protected areas, protection of endangered species, support for restoration and environmental monitoring, among others. The goal is to promote conservation in high priority biological areas and on a landscape scale. From this perspective, CEPF identifies and supports a regional approach, involving a wide range of public and private institutions to address conservation needs through coordinated efforts. CEPF is a joint program of the French Agency for Development, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Fund (GEF), the Government of Japan and the World Bank to provide funding for the protection of unique and endangered ecosystems - known. also as priority hotspots of biodiversity.

Learn more about our actions in the Cerrado in http://cepfcerrado.iieb.org.br/lista-projetos/!

Text taken from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. 2017. Ecosystem profile: Cerrado biodiversity hotspot. Org. Sawyer, D. et al., Brasilia, DF: Supernova.


ORFORZZA, RC et al. New Brazilian floristic list highlights conservation challenges. Bioscience, Oxford, v. 62, p. 39-45, 2012.

²MITTERMEIER, RA et al. Hotspots revisited: Earth's biologically richest and most endangered terrestrial ecoregions. Washington, DC: Cemex, 2004.

³ SON-SON, J. et al. Evolution of knowledge and conservation of the Brazilian Cerrado. In: DINIZ, IR et al. (Org.). Cerrado: quantitative scientific knowledge as a subsidy for conservation actions. Brasilia: Thesaurus, 2010. p. 13-31.

4CAVALCANTI, RB et al. Thick. In: SCARANO, FR et al. (Org.). Brazilian biomes: portraits of a plural country. Rio de Janeiro: House of the Word; CI, 2012. p. 56-91.


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