The second largest vegetation formation in South America, the Cerrado covers one-fourth of Brazil’s land area. An important source of water and the scene of natural and cultural beauty, the Cerrado contains a profusion of natural grasslands, savannas, palm swamps and forests enhanced by many streams and waterfalls.
The Cerrado Biosphere Reserve is characterized by the Cerrado biome, which includes Cerrado (dense savanna woodlands), Cerrado with twisted short trees and bushes, and Cerrado grasslands. The second largest vegetation formation in South America, the Cerrado covers one-fourth of Brazil’s land area.
The Cerrado 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, savannas, palm swamps and forests enhanced by many streams and waterfalls. It is an important source of water and the scene of natural and cultural beauty.
The upland grassbeds of Chapada dos Veadeiros, as well as the Parana valley wetlands, harbor unique species. The deciduous and semi-deciduous forests, with hardwoods that are prized for cattle fencing and construction are also a high priority for biodiversity conservation.
The Cerrado Biosphere Reserve has an area of 296,500 sq km (114,480 sq mi) and is located in the Brazilian states of Goiás, Tocantins, Maranhão, Piauí and the Federal District. It is one of six Brazilian Biosphere Reserves recognized by UNESCO, including the Atlantic Forest, São Paulo Green Belt, Pantanal, Caatinga and the Central Amazon.
The conservation of the Biosphere Reserve of Cerrado focuses on restoration of altered areas and building of ecological corridors. Over 200,000 people (2001) live in the Biosphere Reserve, engaged in ecotourism, production and commerce of native fruit pulps.
The Cerrado Fruits Project is an economic alternative developed by the Timbira communities and their regional neighbors. It aims at income generation, biodiversity, conservation, and economic sustainability. Native fruits, such as cashew, bacury, buriti palm, and hog-plum are collected, frozen and packaged for sale.
The Biosphere Reserve is managed by a consortium system of different economic, rural planning and conservation actors at the State level, with scientific backing of numerous universities and institutions.
The Cerrado Protected Areas World Heritage site is located in the Brazilian central plateau in the State of Goias. The property includes the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park as well as the Emas National Park.
Both national parks help protect the Cerrado biome, one of the oldest and most diverse ecosystems in the world. For millennia, these sites have served as refuge for many rare and endemic species of fauna and flora, including during periods of climatic fluctuations. Both sites remain essential for maintaining the biodiversity in the Cerrado, especially in any future climate change scenario.
Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park is located in the Chapada dos Veadeiros, an ancient plateau with an estimated age of 1.8 billion years. The park is also part of the Cerrado Biosphere Reserve. It is noted for its waterfalls, dramatic canyons and quartz crystal rock formations and occupies an area of 655 sq km (253 sq mi) in the municipalities of Alto Paraíso de Goiás, Cavalcante and Colinas do Sul. The park is maintained by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation.
Emas National Park is located between the states of Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul in the Center-West Region of Brazil. The park is also part of the Pantanal Biosphere Reserve. It covers 1,320 sq km (510 sq mi) and shows a typical cerrado ecosystem; a treeless savannah with tall termite houses and an interesting amount of wildlife: the giant anteater, the maned wolf, giant armadillo, pampas deer and the namesake greater rhea, among others. The surrounding area is dominated by large soybean plantations.
The flora of the Cerrado is rich. It includes between 350 and 400 species of vascular plants per hectare, including many endemic plants. The property also contains populations of large mammals, including the giant anteater, giant armadillo, maned wolf, jaguar and pampas deer, but also the rhea, the largest bird of South America.
The site is also extremely important in maintaining the hydrological regime as, due to its geological features and soils, it is proving to be a key area for aquifer recharge and the alimentation of several watercourses that supply power to the Amazon basin and the Pantanal, in the basin of La Plata.
The property also contains populations of large mammals, including the giant anteater, giant armadillo, maned wolf, jaguar and pampas deer, but also the rhea, the largest bird of South America.