The Caatinga Biosphere Reserve is characterized by Caatinga vegetation as well as 'Martius' decidous forest, 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, as well as deciduous forest in the drought period, the typical vegetation of the interior of northeastern 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.
Cacti, thick-stemmed plants, thorny brush, and arid-adapted grasses make up the ground layer. 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, and it is also linked to the contiguous Mata Atlántica Biosphere Reserve and Cerrado Biosphere Reserve.
Caatinga stands for the kind of vegetation that covers the greatest semiarid region in Northeast Brazil. The Caatinga Biosphere Reserve has been divided into 6 units.
- Represents a Caatinga high forest characterized by Tabebuia-Aspidosperma-Astronium-Cavanillesia association.
- Varies from Caatinga middle or lower forest and open arboreal Caatinga. It presents four associations:
- Represents a lower Caatinga forest and is characterized by Pilosocereus-Poepiggia-Dalbergia-Piptadenia association.
- Occurs in low Caatinga and includes four associations:
- Represents a type of bushy Caatinga and is characterized by Calliandra-Pilosocereus association.
- Represents a Caatinga gallery forest and is characterized by Copernicia-Geoffroea-Licania association. Land uses include dry-farming (sequiro), agroecosystems, afforestation areas; 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 as well as the improvement of livelihoods of the people of northeastern Brazil.
Some 210,000 people live in the Biosphere Reserve, mainly living from dry farming and cattle raising. There is also a great dependency on forestry products and several Caatinga plants are considered as having medicinal properties.
Strategies aiming at the sustainable use of the Caatinga are part of the research agenda of the government and non-governmental organizations in the region. These strategies need in particular to reconcile traditional agriculture with irrigated fruit production.