Deforestation in the Cerrado Biome increased by 9% in 2017



28 junho 2018    
Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Cerrado Biome, Brazil
© Divulgação
Annual monitoring and dissemination of information about the vegetation loss in the Cerrado Biome, as occurs for the Brazilian Amazon, is a long-awaited measure by the Brazilian society. The dissemination of results by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) of Prodes Cerrado with the data on deforestation in the biome marks a new and necessary stage.

This progress will enable civil society to monitor and analyze data to exercise its role of monitoring and stimulating advances in public policies to tackle deforestation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil.

The results released by the Brazilian ministries of Environment (MMA) and Science Technology, Information and Communications (MCTIC) on June 21, indicating the reduction of deforestation, however, are still not encouraging.

Numbers
Prodes Cerrado recorded a loss of native area of 6,777 km2 in 2016 and 7,408 km2 in 2017, representing a reduction of 43% and 38% compared to 2015, when estimates were presented for forest loss in the Cerrado biome.

The loss of 7,408km2 in 2017 shows an increase of 9% compared to 2016, which may indicate an acceleration trend already in 2018. "The size of the area deforested annually in the Cerrado is still unacceptable, since it puts at risk one of our most valuable biomes, "said Mauricio Voivodic, executive director of WWF-Brazil.

"The government has an important role in controlling deforestation in the Cerrado, strengthening governance, avoiding illegal practices and creating Protected Areas to protect the most sensitive areas for biodiversity and water production," Voivodic .

The results of Prodes Cerrado reiterate that the MATOPIBA region (portions of Cerrado in the states of Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia) continues to be the champion in deforestation. This area is considered the last agricultural frontier and has lost much of its vegetation for the production of soybeans and livestock, mainly. This is because more than half of the biome has already been decimated and this is one of the few regions that still conserves cerrado preserved.

The productive sectors of soy and livestock do not have effective mechanisms to avoid products coming from deforested areas. "In the absence of these mechanisms in the private sector, there is a great risk that deforestation in the Cerrado will grow again. The increase between 2016 and 2017 may be a sign of the resumption of soybean expansion over natural vegetation, "says Mauricio Voivodic.

In the last ten years, the Cerrado had the highest rates of deforestation in Brazil and did not have periodic deforestation monitoring. In 2015 the Environment Ministry presented estimates of loss of the biome. Now, with the data released by Prodes Cerrado, it is possible to measure the rate of annual loss of vegetation and understand the dynamics of deforestation, which is expected to aid in its monitoring and field control.

Biodiversity
According to a study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution (Strassburg, B. et al., 2017), if nothing is done to contain the rate of degradation, the biome can suffer the largest extinction process of plant species ever recorded in history, three times more losses of flora than there was since 1500.

"This region, which originally occupied 1/4 of the Brazilian territory, is considered one of the richest in biodiversity on the planet. All this wealth has been severely neglected in the last half century. This myopic view on the value of the Cerrado affects not only biodiversity, but also 70% of the waters that generate energy. We have to act while there is time. Facing the Cerrado as a biome that can be delivered to production in a disorganized way is not an acceptable choice, "says Júlio César Sampaio, coordinator of WWF-Brazil's Cerrado Pantanal Program.

Opportunity
According to the coordinator of the WWF-Brazil Agriculture and Food Program, Edegar de Oliveira Rosa, we have a unique opportunity at this moment to save the rest of the Cerrado without impacting the future perspective of agricultural production growth.

"If we promote an intensification of livestock production, we will liberate areas for future agricultural expansion, without the need to deforest any more hectares of natural vegetation. A win-win situation for the rural producer and for the conservation of the biome. Today we have more than 30% of the pasture areas of the biome producing far below its productive potential. This is a waste of such an important natural resource, "adds Edegar Rosa.

Despite the risk of extinction of the biome, the Cerrado is still little protected by the Forest Code (only 20% of the private area is protected) and the extension, for the fourth time, of the registration period for rural properties in the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR) the agribusiness in the sense of not complying with the law of protection of Permanent Preservation Areas and Legal Reserves.
Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Cerrado Biome, Brazil
© Divulgação Enlarge
Área de Cerrado que foi recentemente limpa. Ao fundo, usina de beneficiamento de soja.
Soybean plantation, Cerrado Biome, Brazil.
© Juan Pratginestos / WWF Enlarge
Deforestation rates for the Cerrado Biome, Prodes Cerrado, INPE/MMA
© INPE/MMA Enlarge
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