Brazilian savannahs

Biologically the richest savannah in the world

What and where?
The Cerrado region of Brazil, comprising 22% of the country, is the most extensive woodland-savannah in South America. Around 85% of the great plateau which occupies Central Brazil was originally dominated by the Cerrado landscape, representing around 1.5 to 2 million km2. It covers around 2 million km2, an area equivalent to the size of Alaska.

It is the only hotspot that consists largely of savannah, woodland/savannah and dry forest ecosystems. The Cerrado also feeds 3 of the major water basins in South America: the Amazon, Paraguay and São Francisco Rivers.

Within the region, there is a mosaic of different vegetation types, including tree and scrub savannah, grassland with scattered trees, and occasional patches of a dry, closed canopy forest.

Why
The Cerrado is the world's most biologically rich savannah. It has over 10,000 species of plants, of which 50 are endemic to the Cerrado. More than 1,600 species of mammals, birds and reptiles have been identified in the Cerrado, including 180 reptile species, 113 amphibians, 837 birds, and 195 mammals.

With a pronounced dry season, it supports a unique array of drought- and fire- adapted plant species and surprising numbers of endemic bird species. Large mammals such as the giant anteater, giant armadillo, jaguar and maned wolf also still survive here but are competing with the rapid expansion of Brazil's agricultural frontier, which focuses primarily on soy and corn. Ranching is another major threat to the region, as it produces almost 40 million cattle a year.
Aerial view of Cerrado savannah area, Juruena National Park, Brazil. / ©: WWF / Zig KOCH
Aerial view of Cerrado savannah area, Juruena National Park, Brazil.
© WWF / Zig KOCH

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