Brazil’s threatened Cerrado gets a protection plan
The Cerrado Plan will see US$200 million of federal money invested over the next two years to protect the mixed woodland-savanna, which covers 21% of Brazil’s landmass, an area about the size of Greenland.
Though unknown to many people, numerous important tributaries of the Amazon River originate in the Cerrado. It also feeds the world’s largest wetland, the Pantanal.
“The Cerrado has traditionally been viewed as the ugly duckling of Brazil’s biomes, as a free area to expand on an unsustainable basis. The Cerrado region, however, is one of the richest places of biodiversity in the world, and is a source of essential resources for Brazil’s development,” says WWF-Brazil CEO Denise Hamú.
The plan is focused on restoring the savanna’s most vulnerable places - areas with high deforestation rates, rich biodiversity and important freshwater resources.
Targets include the creation of 25 thousand square kilometers of national parks and other protected areas, the ratification and demarcation of 5.8 million hectares of indigenous territories, and a land use plan that balances environmental and economic needs.
Central to this is a legal framework that protects the environmental services provided by the resource-rich area. Studies show that close to 90% of Brazilians consume energy generated in the region, most of which comes from protected areas.
But just over 8% of the Cerrado is now officially under the government’s watch. The new commitment will, however, shelter an additional 15% of the savanna by the end of 2010, including the regulated indigenous territories that appear in the plan.
And to ensure other valuable resources aren’t ignored, the government has stated it will increase patrolling and train 4,500 new forest rangers and firefighters. Real time satellite monitoring will also be used, similar to the exiting PRODES system that has proven a huge success in reducing deforestation rates in the Amazon.
"For the first time, the Brazilian government is putting its attention on the Cerrado, which is of vital importance because its ecosystem forms the transition with the Amazon forest," said Hamú.