Cerrado loses another 8,531 km2 in the disgraceful year of 2021

The year of 2021 ended as it started: bad, lousy, disgraceful. On the last day of December, the Federal Government released yet another of its feats, the destruction of new 8.263 km2 of cerrado.

This area corresponds to one and a half times that of the Federal District, where militiamen and soldiers engineer the annihilation of the natural heritage, public health and education —of civilization at last. Under the complicity of a venal Congress and the blind eye of a pusillanimous Supreme.

This is Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil, completing three years of bad news for everything that lives and thrives. It will go down in history as the most degrading period after the Constitution of 1988, rivaling only the torturous dictatorship that preceded it.

The great hinterland of Guimarães Rosa is on the way to being finished, while most of those who care about the environment only have eyes for the Amazon. Half of the Brazilian savannah has already gone to the sack, and this Pyrrhic victory over nature is celebrated with Brazilian flags on every farm gate in the region.

August to July 2021, the Prodes Cerrado system of the National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) caught the 8.531 km2 of clear cut, implying a 7.9% increase over the previous period. Last year, the satellites used by Inpe had registered 7.263 km2.

The increase in felling and burning is worrying because it reverses a downward trend, but it is necessary to recognize that the situation has already been worse. From 1988 to 2001, the annual fees were on the order of 25 thousand to 30 thousand km 2, triple the current cadence.

The pace dropped by half between 2005 and 2008, then plummeting to less than 8.000 km2/year. That was until 2008, the year of Bolsonaro’s election, when agribusiness, fueled by the boastful frenzy and by a sinister minister, used a chainsaw and chain to pass the herd on the natural environments.

Worse for the Amazon, which saw deforestation return to the five-digit level, and for the cerrado, which is approaching that. Few pay attention to the crucial difference in the situation of the two environments, however: the biome to the north is twice the size and 82, 6% preserved , against only 30, 8% of the cerrado.

If the speed of devastation continue to increase, the cerrado could reach a critical point in two decades. By losing 48% of the original coverage, the biome would see “percolation”, the connectivity of natural corridors through which the fauna circulates, threatened, whose survival would then be systemicly threatened.

Our savannah is home to more than 20 a thousand plant species, including 5. endemic —plants that only exist there. Mammals 82 depend on them, 82 on them present only in the dominant biome of the Central Plateau.

What would the cerrado be without the imposing maned wolf, without the buritis that dot the humid paths? A shy backwoods, diminished, of course.

There is no lack of initiatives and solutions, however, as shown in the series of reports Foco no Cerrado, in this Folha. Lack is decency. Humanity. Government.

Our generation was the one that did the most to destroy biodiversity, but it was also able to make it a value in itself. For no other reason, the greatest biologist of the turn of the century, Edward O. Wilson, defended in his last years that each biome on Earth had half its area preserved.

Wilson died in this disgraceful end in 2021. Thomas Lovejoy, his partner in defending the natural world, is also gone. Savannah and Amazon forest totter.

The hunger returned. Covid’s numbers have rotted away. Children are without vaccine. Ômicron and H3N2 raise a sizeless tsunami. Poor people from Bahia and Minas Gerais succumb, drowned and buried.

With so much death, only Bolsonaro has fun. It is in its element.

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