Changing the course of biodiversity conservation in the caatinga of northeastern Brazil

Inara R. Leal, José Maria Cardoso Da Silva, Marcelo Tabarelli, Thomas E. Lacher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


The 735,000-km2 Caatinga is a mosaic of thorn scrub and seasonally dry forests, with more than 2000 species of vascular plants, fishes, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Endemism in these groups varies from 7% to 57%. Inappropriate land use has already caused serious environmental damage and accelerating desertification, which is currently threatening about 15% of the region. Moreover, the rich and diversified biota of the Caatinga is poorly protected: only 11 reserves (<1% of the region) are strictly protected areas. A conservation strategy for the Caatinga biota should be designed to (1) avoid further habitat loss and desertification, (2) maintain key ecological services necessary for improving the living standards of the rural population, and (3) promote the sustainable use of the region's natural resources. Implementing an effective conservation agenda for the Caatinga is not an easy task but, with creativity and consistent financial support, it should be possible to nurture this unique biome and guarantee the preservation of its rich and diversified fauna and flora, and, with this, the well-being of its rural populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)701-706
Number of pages6
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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