The Caatinga: Understanding the challenges

Jose Maria Cardoso da Silva, Luis Cláudio Fernandes Barbosa, Inara R. Leal, Marcelo Tabarelli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

48 Scopus citations


The Caatinga is a well-recognized ecological region that lies in the semiarid hinterland of northeastern Brazil and that covers 912,529 km2. The term 'Caatinga' refers mostly to a seasonally dry tropical forest (SDTF) that presents a mosaic of different physiognomies. The Caatinga is a very heterogeneous region that can be divided into nine ecoregions. It was home to 28.6 million people in 2010. The region has an economy based mostly on public services, and its human development indicators are the lowest in Brazil. The interactions between humans and nature in the region have been marked by a frontier mindset in which natural resources are perceived as infinite. The combination of acute disturbances, chronic disturbances, the proliferation of exotic species, and climate change can lead to the disruption of critical ecological services. A significant regional shift toward sustainable development in this region is urgent. It will require persistence, creativity, consistent financial and political support, and a robust and evident connection between the improvement of human livelihoods and the conservation of natural landscapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCaatinga
Subtitle of host publicationThe Largest Tropical Dry Forest Region in South America
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783319683393
ISBN (Print)9783319683386
StatePublished - Jan 9 2018


  • Dry lands
  • Ecosystem services
  • Seasonally dry tropical forest
  • Socio-ecological system
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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