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The Amazon burns. But another part of Brazil is being destroyed more quickly



But only miles away, another part of Brazil, home to 5% of the world's plants and animals, and its own carbon stock, is being destroyed at a faster rate.

Brazilian Cerado – a "mosaic" habitat composed of savannas, grasslands and forests – is the world's most biodiversity and extends to about 200 million hectares.

"The biome is estimated to have 837 bird species, 120 reptiles, 150 amphibians, 1,200 thousand fish, 90,000 insects, 199 mammal species," Mercedes Bustamante, a biologist at the University of Brazil told CNN.

More than 4,800 species are endemic – including giant otters, tapirs and jaguars – and of the more than 1

1,000 plant species found in Kerado, nearly half are found nowhere else on earth, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.

Cerado is half the size of the Amazon and deforested by 50%, according to Edegar de Oliveira Rosa, Director of Conservation and Restoration of Ecosystems at WWF-Brazil. "We lose about 700,000 hectares a year," he told CNN.

As in the Amazon, Cherado habitats are being cleared due to global demand for meat – to make way for pastoralists and later to become soybeans used for livestock feed or exported to other parts of of the world.

Deforestation is not new and does not occur only in Brazil. But as global demand for meat grows, and as China turns to Brazil to supply soybeans amid a trade war with the US, experts worry that Brazil's agricultural boom will come at a cost to habitats like Cerrado.

  Aerial view showing local savannah from Cherado in Formosa to Rio Preto, western Bahia.

An analysis by TRASE, an initiative that tracks the transparency of supply chains, found that in 2018 Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay produce 50% of the world's soybean, compared to 3% half a century ago.

"In the last 10 years, almost all soybean growth in Brazil has occurred in Cerado," Tobi Gardner, TRASE director, told CNN. "There really isn't much left of Cerrado," he added.

The area has less protection than the Amazon, where, according to de Olivier Rose, about 50% of the land remains protected. In contrast, de Olivier Rose added, about 8% of Cerrado is protected.

"In absolute terms, approximately the same area has been cleared, but in relative terms, Cherado is much more endangered, with more than three times the loss of the Amazon," Gardner told CNN.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's office declined comment, citing CNN's Ministry of the Environment. Officials there did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

  Agricultural fields in Formosa to Rio Preto, western Bahia. Native vegetation is often cleared for cultivation of soybeans

'Climate has no boundaries'

Habitat destruction is also bad news for climate change: Kerado, WWF says, closes "fraudulently". a large amount of carbon "in its deep root systems."

"This is a forest differently – it is an upstream forest with its head down because much of the biomass is underground," de Olivier Rose told CNN.

A recent Greenpeace report suggested that other native vegetation in the region contains a carbon stock equal to 13.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that although forests are important carbon sinks , their ability to capture

Deforestation and agriculture nourish global warming by weakening the earth's capacity to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

"It affects biodiversity, loses species, releases carbon, deforestation, and crop burning contributes to the climate crisis that is affecting all of us," said Daniel Montalto, a forest campaigner for " riynpiys "on CNN.

  The herbicide is sprayed on a field of soybeans in the plains of Kerado near Campo Verde, Mato Grosso State. Neighboring Pantanal, a biodiversity sanctuary, is currently at risk because of the intense soybean crop and deforestation, scientists said.

Water resources also suffer; according to the WWF, of the 12 major hydrological regions in Brazil, six start in Cerrado.

"The Amazon Rainforest has been firmly established in the psyche for many decades and rightly so – it is suffering desperately badly of its own," Gardner told CNN.

"But there are other ecosystems that are disappearing and we are learning about it. which are too late. "

Isabelle Geretsen of CNN contributed to this report.


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