Devastation of grasslands in Brazil is accelerating and the ecosystems are in danger of disappearing as did the jungle that once covered the country’s Atlantic coast. According to figures from the non-governmental organization Fundacion S.O.S. Mata Atlantica only 7% of Brazil’s original Atlantic jungles remain and that percentage survives because it is protected by law. The data was compiled with satellite imagery and comparisons with historical figures. Several environmental groups have warned of the increasing devastation of the Cerrado (a Portuguese word meaning closed, inaccessible wasteland), an area of vast tree savannas with enormous biodiversity.
The most recent official figures from three years ago show that this region has lost 54% of its original 204 million hectares (slightly more than 2 million square kilometres, or almost 788,000 square miles). The conclusion is that it has lost an average of 1.1% of its original area each year, said biologist Ricardo Machado, of International Conservation of the Cerrado Biomass. At that rate by 2030 the only areas remaining of the Cerrado will be those protected as natural reserves, said Machado who attributed the ongoing deforestation of the region to the sustained expansion of agro-industry, particularly livestock and oil seed soybean. Brazil is one of the world’s leading producers of soybeans, which are the country’s main export commodity.