Park and reserves are essential for the conservation of the fauna threatened with extinction in Cerrado
The creation of national parks and other protected areas is one of the main strategies adopted in Brazil and in the world to minimize the current environmental crisis. But how to know if these areas are really having a positive effect on biodiversity? That is what a team of Brazilian and British scientists reports in an unprecedented study conducted in the Brazilian Cerrado and published on the eve of the National Cerrado Day - September 11th.
Researchers used thousands of animal records obtained through automatic cameras installed in an extensive area of the Cerrado of northern Minas Gerais state. They could demonstrate that integral protection conservation units, such as national and state parks, are home to a much greater diversity of mammals than similar areas that do not have the same degree of protection. Animals such as the maned wolf, the giant anteater, the puma, and the tapir are at least five times more common in these areas, in the Sertão Veredas-Peruaçu Mosaic, a priority region for the conservation of the Cerrado.
In general, the areas under the highest level of protection in the mosaic have 2.7 times more species of larger size, and 2.4 times more species are threatened with extinction worldwide. The partnership between WWF-Brazil and Biotrópicos Institute financed part of the data survey in 2012-2013.
According to Guilherme Braga Ferreira, one of the authors of the study: "This is one of the first studies that shows systematically that the creation of parks has an extremely positive effect on the biodiversity of the Cerrado. However intuitive, proving the importance of protected areas with robust data is essential at this time when they are under pressure from different sectors".
For WWF-Brazil, the study highlights the importance of creating and also consolidating conservation units in Brazil. "The Cerrado is the savanna biome with the greatest biodiversity on the planet, in addition to providing about 40% of Brazil's freshwater".
Well-managed protected areas guarantee not only the conservation of species but also a series of benefits for the entire Brazilian society ", says Mariana Ferreira, Science Manager at WWF-Brazil.
The results of this study and the findings of previous research show the effectiveness of protected areas to prevent deforestation in Brazil, including in the Cerrado. They also confirm the Sertão Veredas-Peruaçu Mosaic, which covers the region of the Minas Gerais hinterland described by Guimarães Rosa in his book Grande Sertão Veredas, as a vital area for the preservation of biodiversity in Brazil.
Sertão Veredas-Peruaçu Mosaic
The Sertão Veredas – Peruaçu Mosaic is a set of protected areas located on the left bank of the São Francisco River, between the north and northwest regions of Minas Gerais state and part of the southwest of Bahia state. ICMBio (www.icmbio.gov.br) manages Federal Conservation units, while IEF-MG (www.ief.mg.gov.br) manages state ones. For more information, visit https://mosaicosvp.com.br/o-mosaico/.
WWF-Brazil in the Mosaic
WWF-Brazil has been operating since 2010 in the Sertão Veredas – Peruaçu Mosaic with actions for integrated landscape management, based on encouraging the adoption of best practices in agricultural production, the implementation and integrated management of conservation units (UCs – Brazilian acronym for Conservation Units), and their Advisory or Deliberative Councils, including support for expanding the Mosaic, and the innovative initiative to strengthen the productive chain of Cerrado fruits. Positive results in managing the Mosaic and involving traditional communities show that this model can be replicated in other areas of the biome, increasing the scale of conservation.
Biotrópicos Institute is a non-governmental organization based in Diamantina, Minas Gerais. The Institute has been developing nature conservation along with socio-environmental projects in Serra do Espinhaço and Sertão Veredas-Peruaçu Mosaic since its foundation in 2003. It has served on the advisory board for this mosaic for almost ten years.
Founded in 1826 in the heart of London, UCL (University College London) is one of the world's leading universities, with more than 13,000 employees and 42,000 students from 150 different countries. For more information visit: www.ucl.ac.uk
Zoological Society of London
The ZSL (Zoological Society of London) is an international non-governmental organization working to create a world in which wildlife can thrive. Our work involves state-of-the-art science, in loco conservation actions, and raising the awareness of millions of people through two zoos, London Zoo and Whipsnade Zoo. For more information, visit www.zsl.org.