Species native to Brazil savanna likely to face extinction, study says
The cerrado, as the biome is called, has lost 88 million hectares—46%
Published on 23/03/2017 - 16:48 By Alana Gandra reports from Agência Brasil - Rio de Janeiro
An international study spearheaded by Brazilian scientists forecasts the continuation of the deforestation in the Brazilian savanna, known as cerrado. The survey was published today (Mar. 23) in the Nature Ecology and Evolution journal.
According to research coordinator Bernardo Strassburg, the cerrado has lost half of its original area, and, if trends remain the way they are today, he argues, “in three decades we'll lose a third of what's left.” The cerrado has lost 88 million hectares—46% of its native coverage.
This leads to environmental problems of various kinds. The water crisis currently facing the Central-West could be aggravated by the loss in the cerrado coverage, and the emission of greenhouse gases would reach 8.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide. “This would come as a direct result of the deforestation forecast for the next 30 years,” he says.
Strassburg described the cerrado as a major global hotspot for biodiversity, which could be threatened with destruction, Strassburg said. This is because the cerrado is home to some 4,600 native plant species, which no longer exist anywhere else on the planet. Scientists also predict an alarming scenario with large-scale extinctions in 30 years' time, if no action is taken.
The researchers estimate that up to 1,140 species will be doomed to extinction by the accumulated deforestation in the cerrado within this period—a number “eight times larger than all species registered as extinct in the world today.” Ever since registers began being made, c. 1500, 139 plant species were officially cataloged as extinct.
The positive message from the study is that this scenario may be averted with no significant harm to the increase in the agricultural production set to take place in the cerrado—something near 15 million hectares for soy beans and sugar cane in the next 30 years.
“All this may occur, provided it happens within already deforested areas, now used for low-production pasture. You boost pasture productivity in other areas, dedicate some pasture regions to soy beans and sugar cane, and carry out the expansion. These 15 million hectares fit in this already-deforested half of the cerrado without the need for further deforestation,” he noted.
According to Strassburg, the Brazilian Forest Code estimates that farmers must restore 6 million hectares in the cerrado—the equivalent of 6 million football fields—in case they want to comply with the law. The study further shows that restoring 6 million hectares of native vegetation is good as it is, but if it takes place in areas optimized for the protection of species, 83% of the scenario forecast will be averted.
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira
Fonte: Species native to Brazil savanna likely to face extinction, study says
Edition: Kleber Sampaio / Nira Foster