Caatinga, Tupi-Guarani word that means “white forest”, a reference to the arid landscape of this region and dry savanna, it is the only exclusively Brazilian biome, which means it cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Its area covers about 800,000 km ², equivalent to 11% of the territory of the country, however the Savanna is the most fragile and least protected biome in Brazil, only 7% of the ecosystem is in protected areas.
Few realize the great biodiversity that exists here. Recent studies indicate the savanna as rich in biodiversity and endemism, thousands of plant and animal species still survive in this land that seems to have little life. The Caatinga is one of the most threatened ecosystems on Earth, it is located in one of the many areas of desertification around the world, a problem that tends to grow more and more with the human impact and global warming. A huge desert may be forming in this region of Brazil. The vulnerable area of desertification covers 16% of the national territory and is distributed over 11 states: Rio Grande do Norte, Alagoas, Paraíba, Ceará, Pernambuco, Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Piauí, Sergipe, Maranhão and Bahia.
Ingrown in the poorest and most arid region of Brazil, it suffers from exploration and deforestation. With a population that needs other kinds of energy sources, native vegetation turns into charcoal. But the biggest impact and devastation comes from large industries, plasterers and ceramic poles are primarily responsible for the use of wood as fuel in their production processes. With the loss of vegetation, soil suffers with increasingly poverty, because it is exposed to erosion making the way for desertification.
Two years ago the region is facing one of the worst droughts in history. Thousands of animals died, few ones seem to escape with life in this landscape. Every drop of water is billions of years and traveled millions of miles to reach us. It is abundant on the planet, but water at home is even a rare privilege for some people even in rich countries like Brazil. The promise of water in these places is so invisible and uncertain as this tap that vanishes amidst the landscape. Is this a mirage? An impossible dream?
We know that millions of years ago the rivers ripped minerals from rocks and filled the freshwater oceans of salt. But with technology and clean energy can we make it follow the opposite way, desalting the seas, redistributing water throughout the Earth? Rescuing life? Would that solve the problem of the Brazilian Northeast? We do not know yet. If would it help? Certainly yes.
There is not much we can do to save the desertification of Caatinga, processes like these tend to be almost irreversible. The region now has one of the highest rates of desertification in the world. In an increasingly warmer planet, its growth and aridity seem endless…
There are no “them” or “us” when speaking of what happens on Earth. We’re in the same boat, the problem and responsibility are ours. What do you do in your city interferes here and in several other areas of the Earth. The places of vast and unspoiled nature are disappearing worldwide. Losing these places mean losing a significant part of ourselves.
Instalação: “Fechem às Torneiras” na Caatinga no nordeste do Brasil / Installation: “Close the taps” Caatinga in Northeastern Brazil
Learn more by watching the documentary