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date: 05 December 2023

Ecological Ideas and Historical Construction of the Brazilian Cerradolocked

Ecological Ideas and Historical Construction of the Brazilian Cerradolocked

  • Sandro Dutra e SilvaSandro Dutra e SilvaUniversidade Estadual de Goiás


Brazil’s national territory has traditionally been analyzed in terms of large biogeographical regions. The most current and widely used classification for both planning and environmental conservation purposes in Brazil divides the country into six large biomes: the Amazon, the Caatinga, the Cerrado, the Pantanal, the Atlantic Coast Forest, and the Pampa. All the biomes have faced threats to the preservation of their natural resources from various causes. Despite its rich biodiversity, the Cerrado has historically been affected by these threats, especially by the rapid expansion of the agricultural frontier over the past fifty years.

An important issue for the environmental history of the Cerrado and for Brazilian biomes in general is the context of the ecological ideas used to construct the paradigms by which Brazil’s biogeographical formations are defined. This context involves ecological assumptions incorporated over the years that are crucial to understanding the historical construction of the Cerrado and other biomes. The ecological ideas that have historically constituted the Cerrado help to reflect on the historical distribution of phytogeographies, their specific features and the processes by which both human and nonhuman elements of the Brazilian biomes interact. The Cerrado is, therefore, a historical construction, the product of ecological metaphors and environmental paradigms adopted since the 19th century. Since 2004, the demarcations and territorial definitions of the Cerrado have been largely guided by the concept of biomes, which has also guided the country’s environmental policies. Similarly, the cartographic representation of the biomes is also a historical construction that reflects the prioritization of floristic compositions, especially in the distinction between forests and campos (grasslands) in Brazil.

Due to its geographic location, the Cerrado shares a border with almost all the biomes, with the exception of the Pampas in the far south of Brazil. In addition to its floristic complexity, the adaptive integration of its fauna and flora, and the ways in which humans have adapted to the environment, the environmental history of the Cerrado offers an important insight into the asymmetries and strategies by which the environment is used and protected in Brazil.


  • History of Brazil
  • History of Latin America and the Oceanic World
  • Environmental History

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