Reverse the Cerrado’s neglect

Michel E. D. Chaves, Guilherme Mataveli, Erasmus zu Ermgassen, Rafaela B. de A. Aragão, Marcos Adami & Ieda D. Sanches | Nature Sustainability | 2023 | Peer Reviewed | Review |


The Cerrado biome in Brazil is the most biodiverse savannah in the world1 and has a key role in stabilizing both the local and the global climate, storing carbon and providing fresh water to the country2. Yet, the Cerrado has little protection and is being converted for agriculture at an alarming rate. Recently released official data reveal that, in 2022, deforestation in the biome rose for the third consecutive year3. The area cleared was 25% higher than the previous year, reaching 10,689 km² (ref. 3), rivalling the rates of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon (12,479 km²), despite the Cerrado being only half the size3. Almost three-quarters of that conversion took place in the MATOPIBA agricultural frontier, where nearly 25% of Cerrado’s soybean harvest is planted4. The current high rates of conversion even jeopardize the future of agricultural production in the Cerrado. The loss of the Cerrado has contributed to extreme climate events over the past decade5, which increased surface-sensible heat flux, reduced evapotranspiration and crop yields and threatened the feasibility of multi-cropping systems6, as well as exacerbated land concentration and farmers’ indebtedness.