The cerrado lost 734,010 hectares of native vegetation in 2020, an increase of 13.7% over the previous year when 648,340 hectares were deforested. The figures are part of the Chain Reaction Research consortium report, released on March 31 this year.
The cerrado is located in the central region of the country and covers the states of Goiás, Tocantins, Maranhão, Piauí, Bahia, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, São Paulo and the Federal District. According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the Biome occupies approximately 24% of the Brazilian territory.
Being the second-largest Brazilian biome, less than 10% of the entire area is protected in Conservation Units (UC), indigenous lands, and quilombola territories. Environmentalist Carlos Durigan says that originally the biome was used by low-impact cultures, indigenous and non-indigenous, established throughout central Brazil.
“However, since the 1980s, with the development of more resistant soybean varieties adapted to the region’s climate and soil, there has been a dizzying growth of agribusiness over the biome, and its environmental degradation is directly linked to this type of activity”, reinforced the environmentalist.
The destruction of the cerrado, according to the study, is caused mainly due to agricultural expansion. “The increase in deforestation linked to soy, cattle, and land speculation threatens to disrupt natural water systems, regional climate patterns, and long-term agricultural productivity in the region,” says an excerpt from the study.
“I understand that agribusiness is important to the country, but we should also promote the rational and sustainable use of soil and water. And also to ensure that we have protected spaces for biodiversity and its people, whether by creating and consolidating conservation units or by respecting the territory of life of indigenous and quilombola peoples”, said the environmentalist.
The data were obtained from the crossing of deforestation alerts issued by the Deforestation Monitoring System in the Legal Amazon (Prodes) and by the Real-Time Deforestation Detection System (Deter) with satellite images.
The survey also points out that deforestation on private land accounted for 66.7%, while public land accounted for 19.2% and the remainder on land without legal designation. Besides, a total of 207,813 hectares of deforestation, in 2020, occurred on farms that already had soy-planted areas. “CRR estimates that 28.3% of the total deforestation in the Cerrado was related to the expansion of soybeans”, reinforces the institution, in the report.
Public lands include rural settlements, indigenous lands, natural conservation units, and federal and state lands. According to the study, the destruction of these regions reached 141,186 hectares in 2020. Another 96,608 hectares have been deforested on land that is registered as public and private, mainly conservation units that allow sustainable land use.
“It is necessary to limit the use of pesticides in the biome, in addition to deforestation, the expressive increase in industrial agricultural activity has grown very rapidly. As well as the use of chemical products in large quantities, it affects the health not only of the producers who use them but also contaminating the environment and the water and food consumed in cities, they also create health problems for urban populations”, concludes Duringan.
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