Sertão Veredas Peruaçu Mosaic expands and becomes one of the largest in the Cerrado

julho, 11 2018

This is one of the most emblematic areas of the biome and strategic for the conservation of natural landscapes and socio-biodiversity
This is one of the most emblematic areas of the biome and it is strategic for the conservation of natural landscapes, sociobiodiversity and culture of traditional peoples

Por Letícia Campos

The Sertão Veredas Peruaçu Mosaic (MSVP), located in the north of Minas Gerais and the southwest of Bahia, has recently been extended from 1.8 million hectares to cover an area of over 3 million hectares. The inclusion of ten protected areas with the 15 one that were already part of the Mosaic creating a total of 25 protected areas, took place last Thursday (05), three months after the proposal being presented to the Technical Integrated Management Council for the units in the MSVP, the coordination of which WWF-Brazil is involved in.

The MSVP’s advisory council voted unanimously to approve the request to expand the mosaic. This is a big step towards the planning and execution of joint actions to prevent deforestation and guarantee the better performance of conservation activities within one of the largest Cerrado remnants.

According to the National System of Protected Areas (SNUC in portuguese), mosaics of protected areas are management and territorial organisation instruments with the purpose of conserving biodiversity through the integration of conservation units and other kinds of protected areas in a determined territory.

Roberto Marcine, manager of the Jaíba State Biological Reserve, believes that the inclusion of the six areas of the Jaíba Protected Areas System into the Mosaic “will enable managers, civil society and public agencies in the territory to work together to achieve greater effectiveness in the management of these protected areas and the promotion of sustainability in a region of great biological and sociocultural importance.”

This territory is part of the Gerais region immortalised by Guimarães Rosa, and its environmental diversity is home to fauna and flora endemic to the Cerrado, coexisting alongside the cultural wealth of its traditional people. However, this area has been the target of deforestation, forest fires and devastation.

A serious warning came in 2017 after the mapping of land use indicated that 37% of the Mosaic region is occupied by agricultural activities. Another concerning factor is the high rate of forest fires, which last year alone destroyed over 600 hectares in the Cavernas do Peruaçu Environmental Protection Area, leaving the veredas in ashes. This has brought back the debate on the importance of a regional approach in the management of protected areas. 

Kolbe Soares, conservation analyst for WWF-Brazil’s Cerrado Pantanal program, says that the Sertão Veredas Peruaçu Mosaic was one of the first to be created in the Cerrado biome and that it includes practically all of the modalities of protected areas provided in the SNUC, as well as Indigenous Lands and quilombolas.

“This is a complex situation. And management strategies considering mosaics of protected areas have proven to be up to date and effective with their integrated actions to protect natural areas. I’m optimistic having seen instances linked to the governance and management of these protected areas – in the case of the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), the State Forests Institute (IEF) and the Municipal City Halls of Uruana de Minas and Mambaí, in Goiás, – working together with the Mosaic, as this could lead to even greater gains through the exchange of experience and integrated and participative management,” he stated.

Ecological and Social Relevance

In this landscape that provided the backdrop for the famous book Grande Sertão: Veredas, the striking landscape of moriche palm forests and waters provides a habitat for large mammals, reptiles, amphibians, a wide range of bird species and over 150 different types of trees typically found in the three important biomes contained in the Mosaic area – the Cerrado, the Caatinga and seasonal tropical forest – many of which are endangered. This region is also the location of the Peruaçu Caverns National Park and the Urucuia Aquifer, one of the country’s largest underground water reservoirs. Water flows into this region from the Peruaçu and Carinhanha rivers, and these provide 20% of the flow of the São Francisco River.

This mosaic of ecosystems represents a key area for the conservation of not just natural resources, but also the integrity of a culture in which traditional and indigenous communities dedicate their lives to the sustainable extractivism of fruit trees. The whole community works together in three cooperatives with the support of WWF-Brazil and its partners towards a single common objective: to maintain the forests and rives abundant and productive so that they can continue to live off the land in the same way they learnt from their ancestors.

See the list of protected areas that have been included in the Mosaic:
Protected Areas Area in hectares State
The Oeste Baiano Federal Wildlife Refuge 128,048.99 BA
The Rio Vermelho Springs Federal EPA 173,324.33 GO
The Pequi Municipal Natural Park 2,200.00 GO
The Uruana de Minas Municipal EPA 30,158.00 MG
The Serra Azul State Biological Reserve 7,285.00 MG
The Jaíba State Biological Reserve 6,358.00 MG
The Lajedão State EPA 12,000.00 MG
The Serra do Sabonetal State EPA 82,500.00 MG
The Verde Grande State Park 25,570.00 MG
The Lagoa do Cajueiro State Park 20,500.00 MG
WWF-Brazil in the Mosaic

WWF-Brazil has been working in the Sertão Veredas Peruaçu Mosaic region through its Sertões Project since 2010, and more recently with the support of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) on actions focused on the promotion of the implementation and integrated management of protected areas; the strengthening of the production chain for fruits produced in the Cerrado; communication actions to value and save the Cerrado; and territorial plans involving the systematic planning of the conservation of the Cerrado biome.
The Sertão Veredas Peruaçu Mosaic has recently been extended from 1.8 million hectares to cover an area of over 3 million hectares
© Bento Viana/WWF-Brasil
Map of the Sertão Veredas Peruaçu Mosaic with the ten protected areas that were integrated
© Thaishi da Silva/WWF-Brasil
The inclusion of ten protected areas with the 15 one that were already part of the Mosaic were voted during the 31st meeting of the Mosaic Council
© André Dib/WWF-Brasil
In this region is located the Urucuia aquifer, one of the country's largest underground water reservoirs, the Peruaçu River and the Carinhanha River, which accounts for 20% of the São Francisco flow
© André Dib/WWF-Brasil