Most people haven't heard of the Cerrado yet, and that's a problem
by: Marsea Nelson, CEPF Senior Communication Manager
For months, the fires that devastated the Amazon made headlines on the front page all over the world, and with good reason. The iconic rainforest stores millions of tons of carbon dioxide & #8211; its burning means a less stable climate across the Earth.
The fires also devastated another part of South America, but coverage of this catastrophe was sparse.
In central Brazil (and with small portions in Bolivia and Paraguay) are 200 million hectares of tropical savanna, known as the Cerrado. The early settlers of the Cerrado considered it a barren desert, but that was far from the truth. This region is considered the most biodiverse tropical savanna on the planet, with 5% of the world's species. And, like the Amazon, the Cerrado holds a critically important amount of carbon.
The misunderstanding about the importance of the Cerrado may be due, in part, to the location where its carbon is stored. The Cerrado undergoes a long dry season each year; trees and plants have adapted, growing downwards instead of upwards. About 70% of Cerrado biomass is underground.
& #8220; For most Brazilians, the Cerrado is the rainforest & #8216; ugly & #8217; as it has a long dry season and most trees do not reach much height, as in the Amazon & #8221; said Michael Becker, leader of the regional implementation team of the CEPF. It is also necessary to consider that the dimensions of the Cerrado are very difficult to understand & #8221 ;. Considering a north-south axis, it spreads beyond the distance between Chicago and Monterrey, Mexico, and has many different landscapes & #8221 ;.
They live within the varied ecosystems of the Cerrado 5 million people, namely, indigenous peoples, communities, traditional peoples and family producers. They depend on the region's natural resources for their livelihood. The importance of this biodiversity hotspot is not limited, however, to its borders. Rivers and rains within the Cerrado are connected to almost all of Brazil & #8211; bringing water to agriculture, hydropower and human consumption.
The second largest underground water reservoir in the world & #8211; The Guarani Aquifer & #8211; as well as the largest swamp in the world & #8211; the Pantanal & #8211; depend on the water flowing from the Cerrado.
Knowing all this, it is alarming to know that the destruction of the Cerrado is already underway: 50% of the hotspot has been cleared & #8211; mainly for large-scale agriculture & #8211; and a large part of what remains has already suffered some kind of interference. All of this, before the recent fires that swept the region.
There are, however, positive measures being taken to protect this critically important place:
- The Brazilian coffee industry was suffering a severe blow to the hotspot, which is why the Forest and Agricultural Management and Certification Institute (IMAFLORA) co-founder of the Cerrado Water Consortium, an initiative that aims to make coffee production more sustainable, is promoting in the municipality of Patrocínio a payment scheme for environmental services (PSA), with replication plans in other parts of the Cerrado, if successful.
- The buriti palm is found in abundance in Veredas do Cerrado and has great potential for income generation. However, it can be overexploited, so the Grande Sertão Family Farmers and Agroextractive Cooperative, a partner of CEPF Cerrado and the International Education Institute of Brazil, offers training to farmers in sustainable harvesting practices and efficient processing techniques. To date, more than 400 people have received training and the income paid to farmers has increased.
- The beta version of Cerrado Knowledge Platform recently entered the air. Created by the Image Processing and Geoprocessing Laboratory (LAPIG / UFG), and funded by CEPF Cerrado, the platform consolidates geospatial and census knowledge about the region, providing conservationists, government and civil society with crucial data to help them make informed decisions.
- With the help of a grant from CEPF Cerrado, the Kalunga people & #8211; quilombola community in the state of Goiás & #8211; is using technology to map the area where they live, enabling them to better defend their lands and their traditional way of life.
- Funatura, another partner financed by CEPF Cerrado, is working to establish 50 Private Natural Heritage Reserves (RPPNs) in the Cerrado, through the project Private Reserves in the Cerrado, which uses a variety of approaches, including showing landowners the untapped potential of ecotourism.
Efforts like these are encouraging, but the road to a healthy and prosperous Cerrado will be long.
& #8220; With half the Cerrado still preserved, this hotspot can be an excellent case study, proving that conservation, social rights and agricultural production can coexist and share the benefits of nature & #8221; said Becker. & #8220; CEPF is working towards this objective & #8221 ;.
Learn more about CEPF investments in Cerrado biodiversity hotspot.
Read the original version of the story, which is available in English, at site CEPF.
About CEPF Cerrado
In 2013, the CEPF Donor Council selected the Cerrado as one of the priority hotspots priority and US $ 8 million were allocated to investments in projects in the period from 2016 to 2021. Between the years 2016 and 2019, CEPF Cerrado made three calls to support projects in the Cerrado. Currently, the Fund has 55 projects, divided into Large and Small Projects.
In Brazil, CEPF relies on the performance of the Brazilian International Institute of Education (IEB), such as the Regional Implementation Team. IEB is a Brazilian third sector institution dedicated to training and qualifying people, as well as strengthening organizations in the areas of natural resource management, environmental and territorial management and other topics related to sustainability. The IEB operates in a network, seeks partnerships and promotes situations of interaction and exchange between civil society organizations, community associations, government bodies and the private sector. To learn more about the IEB's performance, visit: http://www.iieb.org.br/
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.