The unknown Cerrado and its colossal biological relevance (commentary)

The unknown Cerrado and its colossal biological relevance (commentary)

The fires that ravaged the Amazon last year have put Brazil in the headlines around the world. The iconic rainforest stores millions of tons of carbon dioxide – its burning means a less stable climate across the Earth. However, the fires also devastated another South American biome in the same proportion, but the news coverage of this disaster was scarce. There are 200 million hectares of the most biodiverse tropical savanna on the planet located in the center of Brazil (with small portions in Bolivia and Paraguay), with 5% of the world’s species: the Cerrado, as well as the Amazon, also holds an amount of carbon that is fundamental to the world’s climate balance. The ignorance regarding its importance is probably due to what is not visible in its landscape: about 70% of the Cerrado biomass is ground based, so the preservation of the carbon reservoirs in the soil is of great importance for the balance of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. As the biome goes through a long dry season each year, the trees of the Cerrado have adapted, growing downwards instead of upwards in search of water. Because of this, most Brazilians consider the Cerrado an “ugly forest”, since most of the trees in the biome are not tall, as it is the case in the magnificent Amazon. Last week we celebrated the International Day for Biological Diversity (May 22) and it is crucial to consider the contribution of this biome: the rivers and rainfall within the…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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