Impact of human activities on the Caatinga

Jose Maria Cardoso da Silva, Luis Claúdio Fernandes Barbosa

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


Studies to date suggest that most of the native vegetation in the Caatinga has remained relatively intact. In this chapter we have combined information from fire hotspots, roads, and land-use changes to demonstrate that at least 63.3% of the Caatinga is composed of anthropogenic ecosystems. Human impact is higher in the humid and more productive ecoregions (e.g., Brejos and São Francisco-Gurgéia) than in those ecoregions with very dry climates and nutrient-poor soils (e.g., Dunas do São Francisco and Raso da Catarina). The future of the Caatinga's unique biota is conditional on how societies will protect and restore the native ecosystems. We suggest that an urgent conservation program for the Caatinga should be structured around four quantitative targets: (a) zero species loss; (b) zero natural ecosystem loss; (b) all large and mid-size natural ecosystem patches formally protected; and (c) all protected areas connected through conservation corridors composed of a mix of natural and anthropogenic ecosystems. The second and third actions are the most urgent and need to be implemented as soon as possible. The first and fourth actions are long-term ones that will require building capacity at the local level to design and execute sound conservation development programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCaatinga
Subtitle of host publicationThe Largest Tropical Dry Forest Region in South America
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9783319683393
ISBN (Print)9783319683386
StatePublished - Jan 9 2018


  • Agriculture
  • Biogeography
  • Conservation
  • Deforestation
  • Degradation
  • Desertification
  • Fire
  • Human impact
  • Land-use change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


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