Brazil will be celebrating this Saturday National Savannah Day. The date
coincides with the final day of the Savannah Clamor, an act of political
mobilization intended to alert society and the State to the process of
degradation that has been occurring in recent years.
The event is sponsored by the Savannah Network, formed by various organizations that strive to defend the savannah biome.
The Brazilian savannah covers an area of 2 million square kilometers and contains a variety of ecosystems and an extremely rich flora, with over 10 thousand plant species.
Nevertheless, the region has been submitted to an intense process of deforestation and degradation in recent years.
According to Mônica Nogueira, Executive Secretary of the Savannah Network, Brazilian society still needs to become aware of the potential economic and social importance of the biodiversity extant in the savannah.
“Internationally, the biome has already achieved some degree of recognition. But in Brazil the savannah has been viewed exclusively as an area of agricultural frontier expansion. There are estimates that it could vanish in less than 20 years,” she affirms.
The event will also try to sound an alert about the Indian peoples, such as the Xavantes and Timbiras, who have historically inhabited the savannah, as well as what is left of the descendants of runaway slaves (quilombos) and other groups that seek recognition as traditional communities.
According to the director of the Sustainability Foundation (which works in partnership with Unesco), Monica Verissimo, satellite images show that 57% of Brazil’s savannah (cerrado) has been destroyed.
She adds that the situation is worrisome. “Some 25% of Brazilian vegetation is savannah. The area that has been destroyed is an enormous part of our territory,” she said.
Verissimo says there is a need for further study of native vegetation in Brazil.
“We are destroying something we know little about. It is possible that the savannah holds cures for many diseases.”
People who live in the savannah lands know that it is often more profitable to leave land as it is than to exploit it.
“The area is rich in potential, it can be used for research and studies. Exploiting the land, by removing native vegetation, makes it easy prey for pests and erosion,” she declared.
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