Cerrado is one of the most endangered biomes on the planet, time is running out



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Cerrado is one of the most endangered biomes on the planet, time is running out

The Cerrado is one of the most endangered ecosystems in Brazil, threatened by the effects of agricultural activities, arson and other human effects. Less than 3% of the territory is protected by law. The conservation of the natural resources of the cerrados is represented by different categories of conservation units according to specific objectives: eight national parks, some state parks and ecological stations, which cover approximately 6.5% of the total area of the Cerrado.

In the Cerrado, 180 reptile species, 113 amphibians, 837 birds and 195 mammals have been identified. Invertebrates include termites and leafcutter ants. The giant armadillo and giant anteater are the main insectivores in the area.

Among the herbivores are the Brazilian tapir and the pampas deer. The main predators are the maned wolf, cougar, jaguar, ocelot and jaguarundi. The landscape of the Cerrado is characterized by extensive savannah, forests and valleys.

There are wetland fields and buriti palm paths at the water areas. The savannah is not uniform as there is great variation in the amount of grassy and woody vegetation; there are large open grassy fields, the cerrados, and closed forests, the cerradãos.

Cerrado is one of the most endangered biomes on the planet

Cerrado trees have distinctive curved trunks covered with thick bark, and stiff, pointed leaves. Many plants have extended roots to hold water and absorb nutrients.

The roots and thick bark serve as a defense against periodic fires in the area. This adaptation allows plants to regenerate quickly after a fire. The variability of habitat in different cerrado types supports a large number of different plant and animal species.

Some studies estimate that the number of vascular plant species in the area reaches 10,000. The cerrado was considered unsuitable for agriculture until researchers at Embrapa discovered that the soil could be made fertile by adding the correct amounts of phosphorus and lime.

Researchers also created a tropical variety of soybean, until that time a temperate climate product. The cerrado region supplies more than 70 percent of the state's livestock products, and thanks to irrigation and soil correction techniques, it is a center of production of cereals, soybeans, beans, corn and rice.

Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug defined the Cerrado as one of the last places on Earth where there is arable land where agriculture can expand further.