Between 2000 and 2018, all Brazilian biomes—the Amazon, the Caatinga, the Cerrado, the Pantanal, the Atlantic Forest, and the Pampas—reported losses in natural areas. Combined, these reductions represent 489,877 km²—or 8.34 percent of the territory of these biomes.
The subtraction, however, was decreasing over the years, as per the inaugural issue of Ecosystems’ Accounts: Extension by Biome (2002–2018), published Thursday (Sep. 24) by the government’s statistics agency IBGE. It shows general figures on the conservation of Brazil’s land ecosystems.
The most significant slowdown, the document reports, was seen in the Atlantic Forest, which went from a loss of 8,793 km² 2000–2010 to -577 km² 2016–2018. Still, the Atlantic Forest, where occupation is older and more intense, conserves a mere 16.6 percent of its natural areas—the lowest percentage among the biomes.
The Amazon and the Cerrado concentrate the highest absolute values for the reduction in natural areas. The largest loss was reported in the Amazon (269.8 thousand km²), followed by the Cerrado (152.7 thousand km²). In proportional terms, the biggest loss was reported in the Pampas, where 16.8 percent of the natural area was put to anthropic uses—when human beings perform social, economic, or cultural activities upon the environment.
The smallest slash in natural areas, both in absolute (2m109 km²) and percentage terms (1.6 percent) was in the Pantanal.
The survey also indicate that, from 2000 through 2018, the Amazon was deprived of nearly eight percent of its forest coverage, which was chiefly replaced with special pasture areas which went from 248.8 thousand km² in 2000 to 426.4 thousand km² of the Amazon in 2018.
Maria Luíza da Fonseca, researcher at IBGE’s Board for Geosciences, reported that the Pampas and the Pantanal displayed their change intensity indicator with proportions dramatically superior to the others countrywide. “In the Pantanal, we have 75.3 percent of the changes made, including intense alterations—which have indicator three, the highest. The same happens to the Pampas, with around 60 percent of rather intense alterations. Indicator three here points at a use conversion that went from natural directly to intense anthropic,” she stated. In the Pampas, she explained, natural was superseded by agricultural use, and, in the Pantanal, by special pasture.
The Atlantic Forest (7.96) and the Caatinga (7.44%) underwent the smallest transformations of the Brazilian space and the largest declines in the suppression of natural areas. “Within the national landscape, we can see that both the Atlantic Forest and the Caatinga were the ones that, in the last biennium surveyed (2016–2018), had the sharpest plunge. They show, over the course of all of this time series (2000–2018) the biggest slowdown in these losses.” The researcher explained that these natural areas include forest and field vegetation, wet and uncovered lands, considered native vegetation, with no interference by man.
“The loss of natural areas occurs in different ways. Neither this study nor the monitoring deals with the causes of such phenomena. In other words, whether it’s man’s doing or phenomena caused by nature itself. IBGE research studies still do not bring an in-depth list of causes,” she declared.