The Cerrado biome is compared to that of a savannah. It presents, however, several types of vegetation, distributed in kind of savannas, meadows, and forests. The rainfall varies from 800 to 2000mm, and the temperatures from 18 to 28 ° C, with a strong dry period from April to September. The forest cover of Cerrado represents 13% of the Brazilian territory.
Fires play an important role in the structuring of this biome, which becomes very dry during the dry season, from May to September. It is more of Brazil’s most endangered biome, being nibbled by crops and cities that spread. The so-called “Cerradão” forest, or “great cerrado”, is a type of forest that stands out from the others because its floristic composition is almost identical to that of the savanna-type Cerrado. The trees are much lower, with an average height of 8 to 15m. The light conditions allow the presence of bushes and shrubs characteristic of Cerrado. Tree adaptation to heat and drought is found in thick bark, twisting of branches, and thick leaves.
Despite its environmental importance, it is one of the least protected regions in Brazil.
The forests of Cerrado are of several types.
The most widespread is the “dry” forest. The trees have an average height of between 15 to 25m. Almost all of them lose their leaves during the dry season (deciduous), which prevents the presence of epiphytic plants but allows the growth of a more or less dense shrub layer. Many of the vegetative species encountered have thorns where they are stinging.
The Cerrado rainforest in Brazil is not nearly as known as Amazon, but is at least as threatened, mainly from cattle farming and conversion of forests to soy plantations. If the current deforestation continues, much of the savannah and forest of Cerrados will be lost in 2030.
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• With less than 3% under legal protection, WWF is working in the Cerrado to protect this unique environment, considered one of the world’s biological “hotspots”.
• WWF assisted in the creation of one of the most famous national parks in the centre of Brazil – the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Other conservation work included a successful community-focused ecotourism project that helped miners train as tour guides in the region, as well as current work on freshwater and environmental education. WWF is also active in the international Round Table on Responsible Soy, which promotes environmentally responsible production and use of soy, particularly in the Cerrado.