The Caatinga Biome
The Caatinga is a uniquely Brazilian semi-arid biome that occupies nearly 11% (844,453 km²) of Brazil. According to data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Caatinga is one of Brazil’s most vulnerable biome to climate change is predicted to the most affected by climate change in Brazil in the future. Cooperation on the issue through partnerships is crucial foreseeing the devastation climate change will have on the biome for the lasting conservation of the caatinga and the people that rely on it. Joining forces on all levels and creating a robust network of knowledge-exchange through partnerships will ensure the future protection of the biome for the mutual benefit of Caatinga communities and the environment.
While the Caatinga may not be the most well-known in Brazil, it is the most biodiverse semi-arid biome in the world. The Caatinga hosts a great wealth of ecosystems and species; 932 species of plants, 178 species of mammals, and 590 species of birds; many of which only exist in the Caatinga.
About 27 million people currently live in the original extent of the Caatinga. 80% of the original area of the biome, however, has already been permanently altered, predominantly due to deforestation and burning. This has severely impacted many Caatinga communities who struggle with poverty and rely on the biome’s resources stemming from the biome’s rich biodiversity for their livelihoods. The Caatinga, however, if conserved and used sustainably, has the potential to boost the development of the region and help the people of the Caatinga rather than fostering poverty through its exploitation.
Conserving the Caatinga is also crucial to combating desertification, a process of environmental degradation common in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas under climate change. In Brazil, 62% of the areas susceptible to desertification are in areas originally occupied by caatinga, many of which have already been significantly altered. Despite this, less than 1.5% of the Caatinga is currently fully protected (proteção integral) through protection units such as national/state/municipal parks, biological reserves, ecological stations, natural monuments, or wildlife refuges.