Since 2009, The Nature Conservancy and partners have been developing projects to promote the conservation of the Cerrado in Western Bahia, Brazil. Western Bahia makes up Bahia’s main agricultural region and is fundamental to the conservation of the biodiversity of the Cerrado – the world’s most biologically diverse savanna. In addition to being home to more than 10,000 species of plants, 935 species of birds, nearly 300 mammals, and stretching across nearly 500 million acres, the Cerrado also feeds three of the major water basins in South America – the Amazon, Paraguay and São Francisco Rivers.
One of the least protected savannas in the world with less than 2% of its region comprising of national parks and conservation areas, the Cerrado has experienced a major expansion of large-scale agriculture since the 1960s. While it is one of the largest producers of soy beans in the world, it is costing too much in terms of biodiversity loss.
In the ten municipalities that make up this project, TNC developed strategies to help farmers begin to comply with the Brazil Forest Code and promote sustainable ranching and farming with conservation of natural habitats. By the end of 2010, 1.2 million acres of land in nearly 800 properties were already registered into the TNC-designed Municipal Environmental Portal (PAM) and had started to comply with the Forest Code. Through a joint effort between TNC, government, the agricultural sector and the town councils of the municipalities of Luís Eduardo
Magalhães and São Desidério, they defined new environmental management strategies and created the necessary infrastructure for implementation. This pioneering project has already shown a clear improvement in the quality of soil and water in the Cerrado, created a new 22,000-acre private preserve, and increased profitability.