BRAZIL'S SEMIARID CERRADO: A REMOTE SENSING PERSPECTIVE
Authors: Philippe Maillard, Cristina Helena Ribeiro Rocha Augustin and Geraldo Wilson Fernandes
Abstract: Cerrado is a vegetation complex covering nearly two million square kilometers in Brazil, part of which is considered semiarid. Unlike other savannas in Africa and Australia, most of the cerrados are covered with trees that are specially adapted to frequent droughts and poor soils. Until recently, the Cerrado biome was considered a wasteland and many efforts were concentrated on its conversion to agriculture. It is now recognized as a very rich biome in terms of biodiversity but is seriously threatened by the established will to convert it into soy and eucalypt plantations, pasture and other uses. Remote sensing is the only effective tool capable of monitoring at the regional scale how and at what pace the Cerrado is being degraded but also how it regenerates over time. With the continuing efforts to launch and maintain the CBERS series of observation satellite, Brazil (in cooperation with China) is strongly committed to provide free and easy access to satellite data and encourage the conservation of its natural resources. In this chapter, a remote sensing perspective is given to the various aspects of the characterization of the semiarid Cerrado as well as the monitoring of its degradation and regeneration. The text is organized into four sections, the first of which brings a general introduction on Cerrado as a biome. The second section covers the ecology and biodiversity of semiarid Cerrado and how remote sensing can contribute to the study of its vegetation. Soils, landform and geology make up the third section with some emphasis on remote sensing capabilities for these applications. Finally, the fourth section presents the specific case of the “Veredas do Peruaçu” State Park which has become a research station dedicated to the study of the Cerrado in the semiarid.