The Caatinga Biosphere Reserve is characterized by Caatinga vegetation and deciduous forest in the drought period, the typical vegetation of the interior of northeastern Brazil. The reserve sets up ecological corridors and is linked to the contiguous Mata Atlántica and Cerrado Biosphere Reserves.
Caatinga Biosphere Reserve
The Caatinga Biosphere Reserve is characterized by Caatinga vegetation and deciduous forest in the drought period, the typical vegetation of the interior of northeastern Brazil.
Caatinga covers the largest semiarid region in Northeast Brazil. The name "Caatinga" is a Tupi word meaning "white forest" or "white vegetation." Caatinga is a xeric shrubland and thorn forest, which consists primarily of small, thorny trees that shed their leaves seasonally.
The ground layer comprises cacti, thick-stemmed plants, thorny brush, and arid-adapted grasses. Many annual plants grow, flower, and die during the brief rainy season.
Through the buffer and transition areas, the Caatinga Biosphere Reserve sets up ecological corridors among the diverse core areas. It is also linked to the contiguous Mata Atlántica Biosphere Reserve and Cerrado Biosphere Reserve.
The Caatinga Biosphere Reserve has been divided into six units.
Unit I represents a Caatinga high forest characterized by the Tabebuia-Aspidosperma-Astronium-Cavanillesia association
Unit II varies from Caatinga middle or lower forest and open arboreal Caatinga. It presents four associations: a) Astronium-Schinopsis-Caesalpinia, b) Caesalpinia-Spondias-Bursera-Aspidosperma, c) Mimosa-Syagrus-Spondias-Cereus, and d) Cnidosculus-Bursera-Caesalpinia.
Unit III represents a lower Caatinga forest and is characterized by the Pilosocereus-Poepiggia-Dalbergia-Piptadenia association.
Unit IV occurs in low Caatinga and includes four associations: a) Caesalpinia-Aspidosperma-Jatropha, b) Caesalpinia-Aspidosperma, c) Mimosa-Caesalpinia-Aristida, and d) Aspidosperma-Pelosocereus.
Unit V represents a bushy Caatinga type characterized by the Calliandra-Pilosocereus association.
Unit VI represents a Caatinga gallery forest characterized by the Copernicia-Geoffroea-Licania association. Land uses include dry farming (sequiro), agroecosystems, afforestation areas, and pasture land.
Land uses include dry farming (sequiro), agroecosystems, afforestation areas, and pasture land.
The Caatinga Biosphere Reserve is implementing a strategy of promoting the preservation of biodiversity, the development of research activities, environmental monitoring and education, sustainable development, and the improvement of the livelihoods of the people of northeastern Brazil.
Some 210,000 people live in the Biosphere Reserve, mainly from dry farming and cattle raising. There is also a significant dependency on forestry products, and several Caatinga plants are considered to have medicinal properties.