Working with Brazilian partner O Boticário, The Nature Conservancy has created a new 22,000-acre private preserve in the heart of the Cerrado grasslands of central Brazil. Considered by the Brazilian government to be a priority conservation site, the foundation of the new Serra do Tombador Nature Preserve in the Brazilian state of Goiás is a crucial step in the protection of:
- more than 900 species of birds,
- 300 species of mammals, and
- 10,000 species of plants that thrive in the Cerrado.
Increased production of soy and other crops have contributed to the rapid depletion of the region’s native vegetation, species, and natural resources: today, only 30 percent of the Cerrado remains in a natural state and only a small fraction of the region receives any sort of protected status. The Conservancy is working to change that.
A Piece of a Broad Strategy
The creation of this new protected area is exciting on its own, but it’s just one component of a broader conservation strategy for Brazil’s Cerrado. The Conservancy will be working with local people who own the lands between the Serra do Tombador Nature Preserve and Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, helping them set aside biologically important portions of their land to form an ecological corridor between the protected areas.
According to Brazil’s national Forest Code, landowners in the Cerrado region must preserve at least 20 percent of their land in a state of natural vegetation. By giving farmers access to high-tech tools like GPS satellite imagery, the Conservancy is able to help them map their lands and assess what kinds of natural vegetation remain and need to be preserved. By making farmers aware of the Forest Code and giving them the tools to comply with it, the Conservancy is helping bring greater protection to lands between the new Serra do Tombador Preserve and the national park.
Creating a Corridor
The formation of an ecological corridor between the Serra do Tombador Nature Preserve and Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park is imperative because corridors, by enabling genetic exchange between populations that could otherwise decline due to excessive inter-breeding, are essential to the survival of threatened ecosystems. Endangered species that call the Cerrado home include:
- Marsh deer
- Maned wolves
- Giant anteaters
- Giant armadillos
- Crowned eagles
- White-winged nightjars
- Brazilian mergansers
A Long-Term Priority
According to João Campari, Director of the Conservancy’s Central Savannas Program, “Helping protect what is now the Serra do Tombador Preserve has been a priority of The Nature Conservancy for a long time, and the purchase and conversion of private lands near the preserve helps the Conservancy achieve its goal of putting more of the Cerrado under direct protection.”
“This region has been under pressure for several years due to a hydroelectric complex built nearby, ranching expansion and mining. Our work there will minimize those impacts, creating the right conditions to support biodiversity conservation,” said Henrique Santos, Conservancy specialist on private land conservation. “Besides conserving so much biodiversity, the preserve will also stimulate and facilitate research and education with O Boticário.”