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NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION 1, 0099 (2017) | DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0099 | 1
Moment of truth for the
Cerrado hotspot
Bernardo B. N. Strassburg, Thomas Brooks, Rafael Feltran-Barbieri, Alvaro Iribarrem, Renato Crouzeilles,
Rafael Loyola, Agnieszka E. Latawiec, Francisco J. B. Oliveira Filho, Carlos A. de M. Scaramuzza,
Fabio R. Scarano, Britaldo Soares-Filho and Andrew Balmford
Despite projections of a severe extinction event, a window of opportunity is now open for a mix of
policies to avoid biodiversity collapse in the Cerrado hotspot.
Brazil’s success in lowering Amazon
deforestation rates by 70% from 2005
to 2013 risks becoming overshadowed
by rapid clearance of the adjacent Cerrado
biome. As we report here, across these
200 million hectares (Mha) of tropical
savanna, a perfect storm of agribusiness
expansion, infrastructure development, low
legal protection and limited conservation
incentives is set to trigger an extinction
episode of global signicance. is dismal
scenario, however, can be averted. Large
yield gaps in converted lands mean food
production could still be greatly increased
even while reducing the footprint of
farming1. Legal frameworks, policy
instruments and multi-stakeholder
agreements that largely account for the
remarkable events in the Amazon are
slowly being applied in the Cerrado, but
must be scaled-up2. Many pivotal decisions
will be made in the coming months (Fig.1
and Supplementary Table1). We urge
national policymakers and international
stakeholders in positions to do so to rescue
the Cerrado from the brink, and deliver
a step change in Brazil’s progress towards
A hotspot under threat
With over 4,800 plant and vertebrate species
found nowhere else, the Cerrado is a global
biodiversity hotspot. It also spans three of
the largest watersheds in South America,
contributing 43% of Brazils surface water
outside the Amazon. Despite its enormous
importance for species conservation and
the provision of ecosystem services, the
Cerrado has lost 88Mha (46%) of its native
vegetation cover, and as little as 19.8%
remains undisturbed. Between 2002 and
2011, deforestation rates in the Cerrado (1%
per year) were 2.5 times higher than in the
Current protection remains weak.
Public protected areas cover only 7.5%
of the biome (compared with 46% of the
Amazon), and under Brazil’s Forest Code,
only 20% (compared with 80% in the
Amazon) of private lands are required to
be set aside for conservation. As a result,
40% of remaining natural vegetation can
now be legally converted3. e country’s Soy
Moratorium, a key element in preventing
almost all direct conversion of the Amazon
to soy cultivation4, does not apply to the
Cerrado. Of the remaining Cerrado, 88.4%
is suitable for growing soybeans, and 68.7%
for sugarcane, crops for which demand
is predicted to rise steeply in coming
decades1. Moreover, potential funding for
conservation from climate change mitigation
funding bodies is currently limited.
Despite warnings that REDD+ payments
(‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation
and Degradation, a mechanism under the
UN Convention on Climate Change) might
undermine conservation in biodiversity-rich
but relatively carbon-poor regions5 and even
though the Cerrado accounts for 26% of
Brazilian emissions from land-use change6,
the current rules of Brazil’s main climate
funding stream — the Amazon Fund —
preclude conservation investments (except
in monitoring) outside the Amazon.
We combined recent data from Brazil’s
most comprehensive assessment of its
species threat status to date (Brazil’s
2014 Red List) with two state-of-the-art
projections of land-use change for the
Cerrado7,8 . e picture we found is sombre.
In this ‘business-as usual’ (BAU) scenario,
the combination of limited protection
and marked pressure from agricultural
expansion explains the projections that
31–34% of the remaining Cerrado is
likely to cleared by 20507 (Fig.1a,b). Our
calculations based on the species–area
relationship suggest that this projected
deforestation will drive ~480endemic
plant species to extinction— over three
times all documented plant extinctions
since the year 1500 (Fig.1d, see also
Supplementary Information). is will in
turn have profound consequences for Brazil’s
environmental standing and damaging
repercussions for its agribusiness sector.
Our species-by-species assessments using
a continuous model for extinction risk9
indicate extinctions will be pronounced
among those 397 threatened endemic
plant species whose distributions have
been individually mapped (Fig.1e and
Supplementary Information). Global
losses will also be accompanied by local
extinctions, potentially changing the
functioning of ecosystems and their ability
to provide services to local and regional
communities. In addition, the anticipated
conversion will emit up to 8.5PgCO2e
(petagrams of CO2 equivalent) — over
2.5times all the emissions reductions
achieved in the Amazon between 2005
Sustainable scenario within reach
Nonetheless, this scenario is entirely
avoidable without compromising
agricultural growth (Fig.1c). Our ‘Greener
Cerrado’ scenario illustrates a possible
alternative in which a policy mix is put in
place to reconcile agricultural expansion,
conservation of the remaining Cerrado and
restoration of critical habitat for endangered
species. Deployment of policies already
in place or under revision could enable
achievement of all of the region’s projected
increase in crop and beef production without
further conversion of original vegetation,
and even allow for targeted restoration.
e growth of soybean and sugarcane
production — projected to increase by 13.4
2 NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION 1, 0099 (2017) | DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0099 |
and 1.9Mha, respectively, by 2050 — could
be accommodated within agronomically
suitable areas currently under pasture (and
near current crop production centres and
infrastructure) (Fig.1c). As in the Amazon,
the soybean industry thus has the potential
to lead the transition towards sustainability
by expanding its moratorium on converting
natural vegetation to theCerrado.
Changes in the region’s livestock
production to make space for this crop
expansion without increasing conversion
of the Cerrado to new pastures are also
essential. Planted pasturelands account
for 76Mha of the Cerrado. Yet stocking
rates (livestock per hectare) average only
35% of carrying capacity1 (Fig.1b). In
a Greener Cerrado scenario, increasing
productivity to 61% of sustainable potential
until 2050 would spare all the land needed
for cropland expansion, increase beef
production by 49% and still spare 6.38Mha
for restoration, equivalent to the current
Forest Code decit in the Cerrado (Fig.1c).
Such a land-sparing strategy carries the
risk of a ‘rebound eect’ (when increased
productivity leads to increased prots, which
in turn spurs more expansion), but when
coupled with complementary conservation
measures, as proposed here, these risks are
minimized10. Furthermore, there is evidence
this is already happening in the south and
southeast regions of Brazil1, where the
expansion of croplands is compensated
by even greater reduction in pasturelands,
without compromising livestock production.
e choice facing the cattle industry and
its partners is thus between being the
main driver of the collapse of biodiversity
and ecosystems (Fig.1a,d,e) or being
a central player in a more sustainable
future. Choosing the latter option requires
alignment of public and private policies: the
Brazilian government expanding its low-
carbon agriculture plan, and the beef supply
chain and its partners banning further
conversion of naturalvegetation.
Greater direct support for conservation
is also needed, on both public and private
land. It is vital that Brazilian society supports
proposals to extend the Cerrado network
of public protected areas, and that this
expansion be strategically planned to take
into account biodiversity, deforestation threat,
and the need to safeguard endemic-rich areas
potentially capable of acting as refugia under
climate change. In parallel, regulation of the
nascent market for Forest Code decit osets
could help conserve key biodiversity areas
on private lands by fostering, for example,
payments for ecosystem services and private
conservation areas. A set of policies aimed
specically at threatened species should
be expanded and used to inform all other
policies discussed here.
Restoration is key
Complementing conservation of remaining
original vegetation by targeting restoration
to critical areas, as recommended in the
recent National Restoration Plan11, could
help conserve >650 threatened endemic
plant and vertebrate species we estimate to
be undergoing an extinction process due to
past deforestation (Fig.1d–f, Supplementary
Tables2,3). Indeed, the restoration included
in the Greener Cerrado scenario, which
would be a consequence of enforcing the
Forest Code, could avert up to 83% of
projected extinctions if directed towards
critical areas such as ecological corridors
(Supplementary Table4).
Climate nance — through expanding
the Amazon Fund coverage to the Cerrado,
as currently under discussion by the fund’s
managers and donors, and channelling
additional resources from the new Green
Climate Fund — could play a major role in
supporting these activities, commensurate
with the importance of Cerrado conservation
and restoration in climate change mitigation.
is case is likely to be even stronger when
climate change adaptation is considered, given
the strategic relevance of Cerrado watersheds
for Brazil’s water and energy security12. e
National REDD+ Strategy13 is a crucial policy
in this context. It already includes a focus
on biodiversity safeguards, which could be
expanded to incentivize biodiversity co-
benets that could make carbon storage more
resilient. A key policy that has the potential to
integrate many of the above is the PPCerrado
Action Plan14, currently planning its third
phase (2016–2020).
under BAU
0375 750 km
Cerrado 2050
Habitat Loss 2012–2050
Pasture prod.
(% potential)
Plant extinctions
Figure 1 | Land use, deforestation and extinctions in the Cerrado. a, Projected deforestation (2012–2050)
and Cerrado remnants in 2050, based on a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario. b, Land use in 2050 under
BAU, and stocking rates as per cent of sustainable carrying capacity assuming continuation of the current
yield gap in pasturelands. c, Land use in 2050 under a Greener Cerrado scenario based on narrowing
the yield gap in pasturelands and restoring 6.4 Mha. d, Comparison of global recorded plant extinctions
to date, the estimated current extinction debt among threatened endemic Cerrado plants given past
deforestation (based on z = 0.25; see Supplementary Information), and the projected extinction debt
by 2050 under BAU. Upper and lower error bars show extinction debts based on z = 0.35 and 0.15,
respectively. e, Projected extinctions among 397 endemic plant species based on BAU habitat loss until
2050. f, Xyris uninervis, a threatened endemic Cerrado species predicted to lose its entire global range
under BAU, and to regain ~100,000 ha under a Greener Cerrado scenario. Panel f reproduced with
permission from Maria das Graças L. Wanderley.
NATURE ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION 1, 0099 (2017) | DOI: 10.1038/s41559-017-0099 | 3
Each of these policies is already in
place in some form in Brazil. What is
now required is a concerted eort from
all stakeholders — governments, supply
chain actors, nancial agents, NGOs and
individuals — to prevent the Cerrado’s
environmental collapse. Brazil has done it
before, providing environmental leadership
and positioning its agricultural sector at the
vanguard of post-2020 clean supply-chain
and low-carbon development markets.
is great strategic advantage, however,
is now at risk of being compromised
by a deforestation surge which would
precipitate plant extinctions of catastrophic
proportions. Not only is there a moral
imperative, it is also in all these stakeholders
interests to take the substantial but
demonstrably achievable steps needed to
avert this crisis.
Bernardo B. N. Strassburg1,2, omas Brooks3,
Rafael Feltran-Barbieri2,4, Alvaro Iribarrem1,2,5,
Renato Crouzeilles1,2, Rafael Loyola6,7, Agnieszka E.
Latawiec1,2,8, Francisco J. B. Oliveira Filho9, Carlos
A. de M. Scaramuzza10, Fabio R. Scarano11,12,
Britaldo Soares-Filho13 and Andrew Balmford14 are
at 1Rio Conservation and Sustainability Science
Centre (CSRio), Department of Geography and
the Environment, Pontical Catholic University of
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 22430-060, Brazil;
2International Institute of Sustainability, Rio de
Janeiro 22460-320, Brazil; 3International Union for
Conservation of Nature, Gland 1196, Switzerland;
4World Resources Institute, Washington DC 20002,
USA; 5Ecosystem Services and Management
programme, International Institute for Applied
Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg A-2361,
Austria; 6Universidade Federal de Goiás,
Goiânia 74001-970, Brazil; 7Centro Nacional de
Conservação da Flora, Rio de Janeiro 22470-180,
Brazil; 8Institute of Agricultural Engineering and
Informatics, Faculty of Production and Power
Engineering, University of Agriculture in Cracow,
Cracow 31-120, Poland; 9Department of Geography,
University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EJ,
UK; 10Brazilian Ministry of Environment, Brasília
70068-900, Brazil; 11Fundação Brasileira para o
Desenvolvimento Sustentável, Rio de Janeiro 22610-
180, Brazil; 12Department of Ecology, Universidade
Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro,
21941-970, Brazil; 13Federal University of Minas
Gerais, Belo Horizonte 31270-901, Brazil; and
14Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge,
Cambridge CB2 3EJ, UK.
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2. Overbeck, G.E. etal. Divers. Distrib. 21, 1455–1460 (2015).
3. Soares-Filho, B. etal. Science 344, 363–364 (2014).
4. Gibbs, H.K. etal. Science 347, 377–378 (2014).
5. Strassburg, B.B.N. etal. Conserv. Lett. 3, 98–105 (2010).
6. Rajão, R. & Soares-Filho, B.S. Science 350, 519–519 (2015).
7. Soares-Filho, B.S. etal. PLoS ONE 11, e0152311 (2016).
8. Câmara, G. etal. Modelling Land Use Change in Brazil: 2000–
2050 (INPE, IPEA, IIASA, UNEP-WCMC, 2015).
9. Strassburg, B.B.N. etal. Nat. Clim. Change 2, 350–355 (2012).
10. Phalan, B. etal. Science 351, 450–451 (2016).
11. PLANAVEG: e National Vegetation Recovery Plan Federal
decree no. 8.972/2017 (Ministériodo Meio Ambiente, 2017).
12. Spera, A.A. etal. Glob. Change Biol . 22, 3405–3413 (2016).
13. ENREDD: e National REDD+ Strategy (Ministério do Meio
Ambiente, 2016).
14. PPCerrado: Plano de Ação Para Prevenção e Controle do
Desmatamento e das Queimadas no Cerrado: 2ª fase (2014–2015)
(Ministério do Meio Ambiente, 2014).
e authors gratefully acknowledge the help of A.Cosenza,
A.Oliveira, F.Barros, I.Lorenzini, J.Silveira dos Santos and
M.Pereira with the preparation of gures.
Additional information
Supplementary information is available for this paper.
Competing interests
e authors declare no competing nancial interests.
Reduce habitat loss
Restore habitat
Make space
Improve land-use
Identify critical
areas for
Identify critical
areas for
Increase protection
protected areas
Improve monitoring
and enforcement
Redirect cropland
expansion into
Improve productivity
of existing pasturelands
Create incentives
Improve incentives
for retaining
incentives for
restoring Cerrado
Low Carbon
Agriculture Plan
Policies for
Forest Code,
including its
oset market 8
Finance and
National REDD+
Strategy 8
Moratorium 1
Restoration Plan
Expand to Cerrado Accelerate, focus on critical areas ReactivatePolicy opportunities and required actions
Action Plan
Identify critical areas
for increased
Figure 2 | The main public and private policies needed to retain and restore key Cerrado habitats while enabling agricultural expansion. To make space for
deforestation-free agricultural expansion, increasing pasture productivity needs to be coupled with incentives to direct agricultural expansion to already
converted lands, from increased climate finance and an expansion of the Soy Moratorium to Cerrado, to sugarcane and to beef. Increased protection would
safeguard critical habitats and reinforce pressure for farm expansion into already converted lands. Improved land-use planning is vital to ensure eorts are
focused in the most appropriate areas for reconciling agricultural expansion, conservation and restoration.
... Promote intensification of production Strassburg et al. (2017) found that current productivity of Brazilian cultivated land is 33% of its potential and that by increasing productivity to 50% it will be possible to meet demand for meat, crops and biofuels until 2040 without further deforestation. More intensive soy cultivation can be achieved either by replacing pasture with cropland or by increasing soy productivity per hectare on existing plantations. ...
... As well as being mentioned by interviewees, this approach is promoted by the Soft Commodities Forum in the Cerrado and has been adopted by some major traders (WBCSD, 2019). However, it worth noting that antideforestation commitments that only target regions with high conversion rates have been shown to be more likely to result in deforestation displacement to other regions unless they are combined with more intensive production (le Polain de Waroux et al., 2019b;Strassburg et al., 2017). ...
... As one of the participants stressed, 'in soy, we (Garrett et al., 2019;Haupt et al., 2018;Kuepper et al., 2019;le Polain de Waroux et al., 2019b;Stabile et al., 2020;Strassburg et al., 2017;Vörösmarty et al., 2018). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
This study aimed to identify mechanisms with potential to enable Brazil-China soy traders to meet increasing demand while reducing deforestation. The factors undermining current antideforestation mechanisms were analysed and it was found that the lack of long-term incentives for behavioural change was a major barrier to the implementation and efficacy of key mechanisms. Qualitative research was then conducted to explore the potential of sustainability-linked loans (SLLs) both to incentivise (and thereby accelerate) traders’ antideforestation action and to facilitate farmers’ access to finance that incentivises forest conservation. Additionally, the potential of Brazil-China soy traders to influence Chinese soy buyers was explored. Relevant professionals from Brazil-China soy trade companies and from banks involved in funding such companies were interviewed. Collectively, the traders who were interviewed represented over 54% of Brazil-China soy exports in 2018 and over 60% of the total deforestation-risk linked to this trade flow. The study concluded that SLLs can potentially act as a catalyst and accelerate traders’ antideforestation action if a series of limiting and enabling factors are addressed first. Additionally, it was identified that joint action by traders and banks could incentivise upstream and downstream anti-deforestation action. Upstream, traders and banks could jointly offer producers SSLs that incentivise forest preservation and production intensification. Downstream, by leveraging China’s dependence on imported soy, they could offer Chinese buyers SSLs that incentivise the demand for zero-deforestation soy.
... Habitat loss and natural vegetation fragmentation are major causes of global biodiversity decline (Grande et The aforementioned situation is critical in Cerrado, which is the second-largest Brazilian biome. Cerrado is considered a hotspot for biodiversity conservation and a provider of ecosystem services (Colli et al., 2020;Strassburg et al., 2017). Despite its importance, almost half of Cerrado natural areas had already been converted to other land uses. ...
... The CRA mechanism has the potential to evolve into the largest market of trading forest certi cates in the world (Pacheco et al., 2021;Soares-Filho et al., 2016). However, its effectiveness for biodiversity maintenance depends on an integrated approach to de ning priority areas for this protection (Strassburg et al., 2017). This integrated approach should involve factors related to the occurrence of threatened species and ecosystem services provision, and consider the prioritization of landscape connectivity and deforestation trends (Stan and Sanchez-Azofeifa, 2017; Wang et al., 2016). ...
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Habitat loss and natural vegetation fragmentation are significant causes of global biodiversity decline, impacting plant and animal species negatively. This issue is worrisome in the private areas of Cerrado in Brazil, which is the second-largest biome, considered a hotspot for biodiversity conservation, and a provider of ecosystem services. Herein, we present a novel integrated approach to define priority areas for biodiversity conservation and environmental compensation in Cerrado, using multicriteria analysis. Our approach combines variables like deforestation projection, integral index of connectivity, threatened species occurrence, and environmental information of rural properties, ranking the importance of remaining native vegetation for biodiversity conservation and forest certificate issuance. Landscape metrics were used to observe and predict land use and land cover changes from 1988 to 2038. We found a loss of native vegetation in the Cerrado superior to 20% between 1988 and 2018, associated with increased of its fragmentation and its connectivity loss, especially after 2008. Natural cover was replaced mostly by pasture and more recently by agriculture Moreover, we determined that is expected a loss of native vegetation of around 55% by 2038 in Cerrado. The proposed approach can predict the consequences of future changes in the landscape of the private areas in the Cerrado biome. It should be replicated in other ecosystems, supporting the decision-making process for biodiversity protection.
... Nesse contexto, enfatiza-se a importância da colaboração de proprietários de terra para a recuperação dessa vegetação, principalmente de áreas ripárias degradadas, que totalizam 7,2 mi ha, dos quais 5,2 mi ha deverão ser recuperadas até 2038, caso cumpram a legislação vigente (Rezende et al. 2018). Em relação ao bioma Cerrado, a sua vegetação foi devastada pelo avanço da pecuária e das culturas de soja e cana-de-açúcar e conta com apenas 19,8% de seu território original atualmente (Strassburg et al. 2017). ...
... Altogether, our data indicate a pattern of Veredas distribution throughout the range of the TMAP region. This is especially important in a climate change scenario where Cerrado temperature increases and precipitation decreases (Vose et al. 2005;Strassburg et al. 2017;Hofmann et al. 2021). Thus, Veredas tend to become drier, groundwater tends to decrease the flow of the rivers from central Brazil and WPE tends to increase, leading to the loss of this important environment. ...
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Wetlands are among the most important ecosystems in the world in terms of endemic biodiversity, carbon storage and hydrological process. Veredas wetlands are distributed across the Brazilian savanna (i.e. Cerrado biome) and are permanently protected areas. Veredas wetlands have a hydromorphic soil, providing water to the main rivers of central Brazil and allowing the occurrence of several endemic species of plants and animals. Although recent studies on biotic and abiotic characteristics have been conducted in several areas of Veredas, the studies are local and there is a lack of information about large-scale patterns. Here we used remote sensing data to explore the role of climate, soil, topography and surrounding matrix explaining Veredas occurrence in the Triângulo Mineiro and Alto Paranaíba (TMAP), a mesoregion of the State of Minas Gerais, Southeastern Brazil. Veredas were more frequent in the western region of TMAP, in areas with lower altitudes, temperature and precipitation seasonality, soil cation exchange capacity, silt and sand content, and slope. Moreover, farming was the most frequent land use in areas surrounding Veredas. Veredas are associated with recharging of the water table and water flow that maintains rivers in the Upper Paraná River water basin. We trust the present assessment will be of help for the development of conservation strategies and biodiversity studies. Graphical abstract Research questions, data processing, statistical analysis and illustration of the outputs generated.
... The rapid and ongoing conversion of natural forests into plantations and pastures threat biodiversity and ecosystem functions of the Cerrado biome, which is the world's most species-rich savanna and one of the largest biomes of South America (Strassburg et al., 2017, Eiten, 1994. Despite the relatively small area that riparian forests of Cerrado occupy, they hold one third of the plant species diversity, representing the greatest number of species per unit area within this biome (Paiva et al., 2015;Silva et al., 2008). ...
Riparian forests play an important role in stream ecosystems, as they support biodiversity, reduce water erosion, and provide litter that fuels aquatic biota. However, they are affected by great array of anthropogenic threats (e.g., fire, logging, and organic pollution), which alter species composition and their physical structure. Although forest recovery after disturbance such as logging can take decades, the legacy of forest clear‐cut logging on key processes in tropical riparian ecosystems is mostly unknown. Here, we investigated how litter inputs (leaves, twigs, and reproductive parts) and storage, key processes for carbon and nutrient recycling and for forest and stream biota, are influenced by riparian vegetation undergoing succession (after 28 years from logging) through the comparison of reference and logged forest sites in the Cerrado biome. Litterfall was overall similar between forest types, but litterfall of twigs was twofold higher at logged than reference sites. Similarly, litter inputs from the bank to the stream (i.e., lateral inputs) and streambed storage were 50–60% higher at logged than reference sites. The higher litterfall observed in logged forests could be related to higher proportion of tree species that are characteristic of primary and secondary successional stages, including fast‐growing and liana species, which often are more productive and common in anthropogenic areas. Our results showed that the legacy impact of clear‐cut logging, even if residual woody vegetation is maintained in riparian buffers, can shift the type, quantity, and seasonality of litter subsidies to tropical streams. This knowledge should be considered within the context of management and conservation of communities and ecosystem processes in the forest‐stream interfaces. Abstract in Portuguese is available with online material. Florestas ripárias têm um papel importante para os ecossistemas de riachos, pois abrigam alta biodiversidade, reduzem a erosão das margens e fornecem matéria orgânica que mantém a biota aquática. No entanto, as florestas ripárias têm sido afetadas por distúrbios antrópicos (incêndios, remoção da vegetação, poluição orgânica), o que altera a composição de espécies e a estrutura física desses habitats. Embora a recuperação da floresta após a remoção da vegetação possa levar décadas, o legado desse distúrbio em processos chave nos ecossistemas ripários tropicais é praticamente desconhecido. Dessa forma, investigamos como processos essenciais para a ciclagem de carbono e nutrientes na floresta e riachos, como o aporte e o estoque de matéria orgânica (folhas, galhos e partes reprodutivas) nos riachos, são influenciados pelo estágio sucessional da vegetação ripária, comparando áreas preservadas com áreas impactadas, onde a vegetação ripária foi removida há 28 anos e estão em processo de sucessão. O aporte de matéria orgânica foi, em geral, semelhante entre as áreas preservadas e impactadas, mas o aporte de galhos foi duas vezes maior nas áreas impactadas do que nas preservadas. Da mesma forma, o aporte de matéria orgânica das margens (aporte lateral) e o estoque no leito do córrego (estoque bentônico) foram 50–60% maiores nas áreas impactadas. A maior quantidade de matéria orgânica observada nas áreas impactadas pode estar relacionada a maior proporção de espécies arbóreas características de estágios sucessionais primários e secundários. Isso inclui a presença de espécies de crescimento rápido e lianas, as quais muitas vezes são mais produtivas e comuns em áreas sob efeito antrópico. Esses resultados evidenciam que o legado do impacto da remoção da vegetação ripária pode alterar o tipo, quantidade e sazonalidade dos aportes e estoque de matéria orgânica em riachos tropicais, mesmo se uma pequena fração da vegetação arbórea for mantida no entorno dos riachos. Esses achados devem ser considerados dentro do contexto da gestão e da conservação de comunidades e processos ecossistêmicos nas interfaces entre florestas e riachos. Palavras‐chave: fluxos de carbono, Cerrado, desmatamento, produtividade vegetal, decomposição de detritos, riqueza de espécies vegetais. Partial removal of vegetation leads to an increase in the flow of organic matter in the forest. Intensification of land use, occurring to satisfy human populations demands, deteriorates their life quality by eliminating riparian ecosystem services. Litter dynamic in riparian forest is an essential knowledge within the context of forest management and conservation.
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Agroindustrial residues have great potential to improve sustainable production and generate high value-added chemical products. The Cerrado is considered the most threatened biome in Brazil, which houses 4600 endemic species, such as Caryocar brasiliense Cambess., Caryocaraceae. Its fruit, popularly known as “pequi,” is used in regional culinary, in the treatment of diseases, and its consumed portion corresponds to only 10% of its weight. In this work, a “pequi” pulp residue extract was prepared and incorporated in a cosmetic formulation. Both were chemically characterized, and their antioxidant and sun protection factor activities were assessed, as well as the in vitro toxicity in red blood cells and fibroblasts. The extract and the phytocosmetic presented high levels of phenolic compounds, which were identified by liquid chromatography, and showed antioxidant and photoprotective activities that can be justified by the presence of well-known antioxidant compounds. In toxicological tests, both samples exhibited low toxicity in the hemolysis assay (rates < 5%) and low cytotoxicity (viability > 100%). Thus, the extract from C. brasiliense pulp residue presents great potential to be explored in the development of cosmetic products.Graphical abstract
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The way vegetation is officially named, classified, and identified has critical implications for ecosystems and biodiversity conservation. Yet little attention is given to how such issues hinder the efficacy of laws mandating environmental conservation on private land. In the Brazilian Amazon where half of the land is now already under private tenure or is available for future land-uses, differences in vegetation mapping and interpretation directly affect the level of protection in private rural properties, especially in transition areas where forest and savanna areas intermingle. Since Brazil’s Native Vegetation Protection Law (NVPL) attaches a higher percentage of protection to forest-located properties, landowners may be tempted to use conflicting mappings and different vegetation classifications to claim their properties are located in areas other than forests to reduce their conservation requirements. In this paper, we compare three official vegetation databases and examine different law interpretation scenarios to assess the extent to which the level of private conservation may fluctuate. We found a difference of up to 430,000 km2 of protected vegetation (an area the size of Iraq) according to the database and vegetation characteristics chosen. This technical ambiguity may lead to make additional deforestation legal or reduce sharply the amount of vegetation to be restored for these areas, if left unaddressed. Clarifying the database and criteria used to define forest is critical, especially as Brazilian states may make different choices in that regard, and cases in which loopholes are exploited occurred in the recent past. Given the importance of this region for global biodiversity conservation and climate, we highlight the urgent need to: (1) support additional research to clarify vegetation characteristics and location; (2) agree on a harmonized methodology to determine forests for NVPL implementation, and (3) explore alternative criteria for defining forests when databases conflict.
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Flood forests are vegetation subject to seasonal floods. Situated in flood plains, they are systems under continuous changes due to the pulses of flooding, following the watercourse. Although these are singular ecosystems, there are little publications that report the floristic structure in floodplains, especially in Southeastern Brazil. This study aimed to characterize the composition, structure and diversity of the arboreal community in a flooding gradient, comparing them with the non-flood adjacent formations, at the mouth of Paracatu River, a tributary of São Francisco River, Minas Gerais, Brazil. For the structural survey of the arboreal community, we used the plot method, installed on both sides of Paracatu River. The individuals were identified at the species level. We sampled 1,276 individuals belonging to 85 species and 32 families. The Shannon Index (H`) regarding to the total sampling was of 3.40 nat.ind, with Pielou evenness index (J`) of 0.76. In terms of species importance, the six most important species comprised 46% of the total index of importance value. By means of similarity analysis, it was possible to verify the grouping of species along the ecounits, demonstrating the substitution of species along habitats, resulted of the temporal difference of the flooding in the environments. In conclusion, the flooding regimes, frequency and intensity determine the ecology of the river plains.
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Brazil faces an enormous challenge to implement its revised Forest Code. Despite big losses for the environment, the law introduces new mechanisms to facilitate compliance and foster payment for ecosystem services (PES). The most promising of these is a market for trading forest certificates (CRAs) that allows landowners to offset their restoration obligations by paying for maintaining native vegetation elsewhere. We analyzed the economic potential for the emerging CRA market in Brazil and its implications for PES programs. Results indicate a potential market for trading 4.2 Mha of CRAs with a gross value of US$ 9.2±2.4 billion, with main regional markets forming in the states of Mato Grosso and São Paulo. This would be the largest market for trading forests in the world. Overall, the potential supply of CRAs in Brazilian states exceeds demand, creating an opportunity for additional PES programs to use the CRA market. This expanded market could provide not only monetary incentives to conserve native vegetation, but also environmental co-benefits by fostering PES programs focused on biodiversity, water conservation, and climate regulation. Effective implementation of the Forest Code will be vital to the success of this market and this hurdle brings uncertainty into the market. Long-term commitment, both within Brazil and abroad, will be essential to overcome the many challenges ahead.
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Historically, conservation-oriented research and policy in Brazil have focused on Amazon deforestation, but a majority of Brazil's deforestation and agricultural expansion has occurred in the neighboring Cerrado biome, a biodiversity hotspot comprised of dry forests, woodland savannas, and grasslands. Resilience of rainfed agriculture in both biomes likely depends on water recycling in undisturbed Cerrado vegetation; yet little is known about how changes in land-use and land-cover affect regional climate feedbacks in the Cerrado. We used remote sensing techniques to map land-use change across the Cerrado from 2003-2013. During this period, cropland agriculture more than doubled in area from 1.2 to 2.5 million ha, with 74% of new croplands sourced from previously intact Cerrado vegetation. We find that these changes have decreased the amount of water recycled to the atmosphere via evapotranspiration (ET) each year. In 2013 alone, cropland areas recycled 14 km(3) less (-3%) water than if the land cover had been native Cerrado vegetation. ET from single-cropping systems (e.g., soybeans) is less than from natural vegetation in all years, except in the months of January and February, the height of the growing season. In double-cropping systems (e.g., soybeans followed by corn), ET is similar to or greater than natural vegetation throughout a majority of the wet season (December - May). As intensification and extensification of agricultural production continue in the region, the impacts on the water cycle and opportunities for mitigation warrant consideration. For example, if an environmental goal is to minimize impacts on the water cycle, double-cropping (intensification) might be emphasized over extensification to maintain a landscape that behaves more akin to the natural system. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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Expansion of land area used for agriculture is a leading cause of biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions, particularly in the tropics. One potential way to reduce these impacts is to increase food production per unit area (yield) on existing farmland, so as to minimize farmland area and spare land for habitat conservation or restoration. There is now widespread evidence that such a strategy could benefit a large proportion of wild species, provided that spared land is conserved as natural habitat (1). However the scope for yield growth to spare land by lowering food prices and hence incentives for clearance (“passive” land sparing) can be undermined if lower prices stimulate demand, and higher profits per unit area encourage agricultural expansion, increasing the opportunity cost of conservation (2, 3). We offer a first description of four categories of “active” land-sparing mechanisms that could overcome these rebound effects by linking yield increases with habitat protection or restoration. The effectiveness, limitations and potential for unintended consequences of these mechanisms have yet to be systematically tested, but in each case we describe real-world interventions which illustrate how intentional links between yield increases and land sparing might be developed.
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In a bold move, Brazil has submitted to the 21st conference of the parties (COP21) in Paris an intended nationally determined contribution (INDC) to reduce by 2030 its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 43% in relation to 2005. This target goes well beyond other developing countries and is above the
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Brazil's Soy Moratorium (SoyM) was the first voluntary zero-deforestation agreement implemented in the tropics and set the stage for supply-chain gov-ernance of other commodities, such as beef and palm oil [supplementary material (SM)]. In response to pressure from retailers and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), major soybean traders signed the SoyM, agreeing not to purchase soy grown on lands deforested after July 2006 in the Brazilian Amazon. The soy industry recently extended the SoyM to May 2016, by which time they assert that Brazil's environmental gover-nance, such as the increased enforcement and national implementation of the Rural Environmental Registry of private properties (Portuguese acronym CAR) mandated by the Forest Code (FC) (1), will be robust enough to justify ending the agreement (2). We argue that a longer-term commitment is needed to help maintain deforestation-free soy sup-ply chains, as full compliance and enforce-ment of these regulations is likely years away. Ending the SoyM prematurely would risk a return to deforestation for soy expansion at a time when companies are committing to zero-deforestation supply chains (3). Between 2001 and 2006, soybean fields expanded by one million hectares (Mha) in the Amazon biome, and direct conversion of forests for soy production contributed to re-cord deforestation rates (4– 6). Farms violat-ing the SoyM were identified using a satellite and airborne monitoring system—developed by industry, NGOs, and government part-ners—and were blocked from selling to SoyM signatories. Monitoring data confirm high compliance with the SoyM (6). ESTIMATING IMPACTS. In the 2 years pre-ceding the agreement, nearly 30% of soy expansion occurred through deforestation rather than by replacement of pasture or other previously cleared lands. After the SoyM, deforestation for soy dramatically de-creased, falling to only ~1% of expansion in the Amazon biome by 2014 (see the chart) (SM, table S1) (6). Soy increased by 1.3 Mha in the Amazon biome during this period (5). In the Cerrado biome, where the SoyM does not apply, the annual rate of soy expan-sion into native vegetation remained sizable, ranging from 11 to 23% during 2007–2013 (SM, table S2). In Brazil's newest agricultural hotspot—the eastern Cerrado region in the states of Maranhão, Piauí, Tocantins, and Ba-hia (Mapitoba)—nearly 40% of total soy
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Providing food and other products to a growing human population while safeguarding natural ecosystems and the provision of their services is a significant scientific, social and political challenge. With food demand likely to double over the next four decades, anthropization is already driving climate change and is the principal force behind species extinction, among other environmental impacts. The sustainable intensification of production on current agricultural lands has been suggested as a key solution to the competition for land between agriculture and natural ecosystems. However, few investigations have shown the extent to which these lands can meet projected demands while considering biophysical constraints. Here we investigate the improved use of existing agricultural lands and present insights into avoiding future competition for land. We focus on Brazil, a country projected to experience the largest increase in agricultural production over the next four decades and the richest nation in terrestrial carbon and biodiversity. Using various models and climatic datasets, we produced the first estimate of the carrying capacity of Brazil's 115 million hectares of cultivated pasturelands. We then investigated if the improved use of cultivated pasturelands would free enough land for the expansion of meat, crops, wood and biofuel, respecting biophysical constraints (i.e., terrain, climate) and including climate change impacts. We found that the current productivity of Brazilian cultivated pasturelands is 32–34% of its potential and that increasing productivity to 49–52% of the potential would suffice to meet demands for meat, crops, wood products and biofuels until at least 2040, without further conversion of natural ecosystems. As a result up to 14.3 Gt CO2 Eq could be mitigated. The fact that the country poised to undergo the largest expansion of agricultural production over the coming decades can do so without further conversion of natural habitats provokes the question whether the same can be true in other regional contexts and, ultimately, at the global scale.
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Roughly 53% of Brazil’s native vegetation occurs on private properties. Native forests and savannahs on these lands store 105 ± 21 GtCO2e (billion tons of CO2 equivalents) and play a vital role in maintaining a broad range of ecosystem services. Sound management of these private landscapes is critical if global efforts to mitigate climate change are to succeed. Recent approval of controversial revisions to Brazil’s Forest Code (FC)—the central piece of legislation regulating land use and management on private properties—may therefore have global consequences. Here, we quantify changes resulting from the FC revisions in terms of environmental obligations and rights granted to land-owners. We then discuss conservation opportunities arising from new policy mechanisms in the FC and challenges for its implementation.
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Deforestation is a major source of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and the greatest single driver of species extinctions. The reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) has been formally recognized as a climate change mitigation option. REDD might have important co-benefits for biodiversity conservation, yet the extent of these benefits will depend on as-yet untested associations between fine-scale spatial patterns of deforestation, species distributions and carbon stocks. Here we combine a global land-use model and spatial data on species distributions to explore scenarios of future deforestation within REDD-eligible countries, to quantify and map the potential impacts on species extinctions as increased by forest loss and decreased by carbon conservation. We found that the continuation of historical deforestation rates is likely to result in large numbers of species extinctions, but that an adequately funded REDD programme could substantially reduce these losses. Under our deforestation scenarios, the projected benefits of REDD were remarkably consistent across the four methods used to estimate extinctions, but spatially variable, and highly dependent on the level of carbon payments. Our results indicate that, if well designed, adequately funded and broadly implemented, carbon-based forest conservation could play a major role in biodiversity conservation as well as climate change mitigation.
In the past decades, Brazil made important progress in the conservation of forest ecosystems. Non-forest ecosystems (NFE), in contrast, have been neglected, even though they cover large parts of the country and have biodiversity levels comparable to forests. To avoid losing much of its biodiversity and ecosystem services, conservation and sustainable land use policies in Brazil need to be extended to NFE. A strategy for conservation of Brazil's NFE should encompass the following elements: (1) creation of new large protected areas in NFE; (2) enforcement of legal restrictions of land use; (3) extension of subsidy programs and governance commitments to NFE; (4) improvement of ecosystem management and sustainable use in NFE; and (5) improvement of monitoring of land use change in NFE. If Brazil managed to extend its conservation successes to NFE, it not only would contribute significantly to conservation of its biodiversity, but also could take the lead in conservation of NFE world-wide. Free download available:
Deforestation is a main driver of climate change and biodiversity loss. An incentive mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) is being negotiated under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Here we use the best available global data sets on terrestrial biodiversity and carbon storage to map and investigate potential synergies between carbon and biodiversity-oriented conservation. A strong association (rS= 0.82) between carbon stocks and species richness suggests that such synergies would be high, but unevenly distributed. Many areas of high value for biodiversity could be protected by carbon-based conservation, while others could benefit from complementary funding arising from their carbon content. Some high-biodiversity regions, however, would not benefit from carbon-focused conservation, and could become under increased pressure if REDD is implemented. Our results suggest that additional gains for biodiversity conservation are possible, without compromising the effectiveness for climate change mitigation, if REDD takes biodiversity distribution into account.