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Travel to Brazil

Cerrado

Brazil Travel / Mata Atlântica – The Brazilian savannah, or Cerrado, is the second largest biome of the country, a biodiversity hostpot and a great travel destination.

For further reading about this amazing ecoregion, see: area / location, geology / geomorphology, climate / soils, vegetation, flora and fauna diversity and wildfires.

Area / Location

The Cerrado has a size of 2 million square kilometers, which corresponds to a quarter of Brazil's territory. It is located in Brazil's midwest region, covering areas of the states of Maranhão, Tocantins, Minas Gerais, Distrito Federal, Goiás, Mata Grosso do Sul and São Paulo. It is surrounded by the biomes Mata Atlântica, Caatinga, Amazon and Pantanal.

Geology / Geomorphology

The geology of the Cerrado is quite complex envolving either Phanerozoic sedimentary basins such as Precambrian rocks of the western segment of the Atlantic Shield. Its relief, which presents medium altitudes between 300 and 600 meters, is composed of plateaus, depressions and plains. The plateaus which dominate this biome form vast plain surfaces, the so - called chapadas.

Climate / Soils

The climate of the Cerrado is tropical warm and semi - humid, with just two seasons, a dry one from May to September and a rainy one from October to April. The medium annual temperatures vary between 22 and 27°C and the precipitations between 600 and 2.200 mm. The trees and brushes of the Cerrado have an appearance, that is associated with a vegetation, that grows in an environment were water is rare. But surprisingly, different from the Caatinga biome, water is not the limiting factor of the Cerrado. Even in the dry season, from 2 m depth on the earth contains sufficient humidity. The problem of the Cerrado is the lack of nutrients in the soil, the excessive acidity and the large quantity of aluminum, a toxic substance for most of the plants.

Vegetation

In general, the Cerrado vegetation is categorized as savannah-type which in South America means open wooded plain. Depending on tree height and density, forested savannah (savana florestada), open wooded savannah (savana arborizada) and grass- / shrubland savannah (savana gramínea - lenhosa) is being distinguished.

Savana Florestada (also Cerradão): trees 8 to 12 m tall, with a closed canopy.
Savana Arborizada (also Cerrado Común): spacious trees, about 5 m high, dominates 75% of the Cerrado.
Savana Gramínea - Lenhosa: as Campo Sujo with low shrub and Campo Limpo as pure grassland.

In addition, there are several variatons, such as gallery or riparian forests along the edges of watercourses. The Cerrado vegetation is semidecidual, which means that part of its plants loose their leaves during the dry season. Most of the plants are xerophyte (adapted to the drought and the fire), with thick and rough barks, crooked and twisted trunks and twigs, reduced leaves or spines and profound roots.

Biodiversity / Flora / Fauna

The Brazilian Cerrado is internationally recognized as the richest tropical savannah in terms of biodiversity. It contains a wide range of ecosystems and a rich flora with over 10.000 plant species (400 trees), being 4.400 of them unique (endemic) to this biome. The fauna of the Cerrado presents 837 bird species; 161 mammals (19 endemic), 150 amphibians (45 endemic), 120 reptiles (40 endemic).

Wildfires

Another important factor of the Cerrado are the periodic natural and man - made wildfires during the dry season. Thick barks and subterranean roots to store water and nutrients, are some of the adaptations, used by this type of flora in order to resist the periodic burnings and to allow re-sprouting after the fire.

Travel & Tours / Ecotourism

The best places for eco adventure tours / travel in the Cerrado region are its conservation units, like Chapada dos Veadeiros and Emas (both World Heritage Sites since 2001) of Chapada dos Guimarães, Grande Sertão Veredas, Cantão, Emas and Jalapão.