Cerrado: the green pharmacy of Brazil
The trees with thick bark and twisted trunks of the Cerrado hide valuable gems for the health of human beings: hundreds of medicinal plants that can heal and save lives. In order to promote this knowledge among local communities, WWF-Brazil is offering a workshop in Januária, Minas Gerais, from June 5 to 7, focusing on the residents of the rural area of Mosaico Sertão Veredas Peruaçu.
Marcos Guião will teach the course. He is a specialist in medicinal plants from the Federal University of Lavras, Minas Gerais. He is also the owner of the Ervanaria Marcos Guião in Diamantina, Minas Gerais, where he has offered courses for more than 20 years. In three days, Guião will present notions about the active principles of the plants, teach the participants to identify plants with medicinal properties, and how to prepare teas, ointments, and syrups.
The rich biodiversity of the Cerrado provides roots, barks, oils, and leaves that indigenous people and traditional communities have manipulated for centuries for the treatment and cure of diseases. This practice is passed down from generation to generation.
In 2009, a study by the University of Brasília (UnB) pointed out 358 native species from the Cerrado that traditional communities (indigenous and quilombolas) have used for the treatment and cure of diseases.
Kolbe Soares, the Conservation analyst for WWF-Brazil, says that the Cerrado, although underappreciated as a biome, is responsible for 5% of the world's biodiversity and 30% of the Brazilian biodiversity. "The Cerrado has immense potential for the phytotherapeutic use of its plants, and it has suffered deforestation at alarming levels, which may be extinguishing plants that can cure diseases that the allopathic medicine has not yet been able to succeed," he claims.
"The Cerrado is one of the oldest biomes on the planet, so I believe it has the highest number of species for medicinal use. I often say that the Cerrado is the largest pharmacy of medicinal plants in Brazil," says Marcos Guião.
WWF-Brazil and the socio-biodiversity of the Cerrado
The sustainable extraction of plants is one of the main alternatives available to guarantee the preservation of the Cerrado landscape. And on top of ensuring conservation, this provides a source of income for local communities and encourages the permanence of the biome’s traditional people. With this focus in mind, WWF-Brazil has been active in the region since 2010, benefitting from the support of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and the Humanize Institute.
Actions are developed to encourage the adoption of best practice in agricultural production and cattle-raising, the implementation of social technology and agroforestry management systems, and to strengthen the integrated management of Protected Areas and other conservation sites. WWF-Brazil is also involved in territorial mapping activities focused on the systematic planning of conservation in the Cerrado, and supports the sustainable sale of native fruits by extractivism cooperatives and community associations.
Informations about the workshop
Workshop "Medicinal Plants of the Cerrado"
Location: SESC, Januária, Minas Gerais
Date: June 5 to 7