Although the typical sparse and scrubby vegetation and the low twisted thick-barked trees have inscribed an almost indelible impression of monotony and little worth on the Brazilian collective imagination, in fact the Cerrado is just the opposite. Is home to surprisingly beautiful, exotic landscapes and cultures with great economic and tourism potential. It is the site of a profusion of natural grasslands, savannahs, palm swamps and forests enhanced by many streams and waterfalls.
Given its geographic situation, occupying Brazil’s great central plateau, and the very deep-rooted vegetation cover, the Cerrado is one of Brazil’s most important sources of water. The recharging of the Bambuí, Urucuia and Guarani aquifers depends on the region and so do eight of Brazil’s largest watersheds – the Amazon, Tocantins, Atlantic North-northeast, São Francisco, Atlantic East and Parana-Paraguay basins.
Conservation of the Cerrado in the upper Paraguay River basin is intimately bound up with the perpetuation of the ebb and flood cycles that maintain life and livelihoods in the Pantanal, the greatest freshwater floodplain on the planet.
In the power generating sector, seven out of every ten litres of water that pass through the turbines of the great Tucuruí hydroelectric plant, in the state of Pará, come from the Cerrado, and so does half the water that powers the Itaipú plant in Paraná state. In the case of the Sobradinho hydroelectric plant, in the state of Bahia, practically 100% of the waters above the dam come from the Cerrado. In overall terms, nine out of ten Brazilians consume electricity generated by waters from the Cerrado.
In the Cerrado areas there are more than 6.7 thousand centre pivot sprinkler systems in operation, irrigating areas varying from 20 to 150 hectares per unit. Most of them can be found in Cristalina, in the state of Goias, Paracatu, in Minas Gerais, and Luiz Eduardo Magalhães, in Bahia state.