Conservation and carbon storage goals collide in Brazil's Cerrado

13 April 2015

At the Los Angeles auto show in November 2008, Hyundai made a groundbreaking announcement. It would offset carbon dioxide emitted by all 2009 Genesis sedans during their first year on the road through "the permanent conservation and reforestation of 3,000 acres of tropical forest in Brazil."

The Genesis Forest Project was notable owing to its surprising location: It would restore forest not to the carbon-rich Amazon, but to the hot, dry Brazilian Cerrado, a low-carbon biome that is shrinking at more than twice the rate of the Amazon due to the expansion of soy plantations, eucalyptus groves and cattle ranches.

The Cerrado, which covers roughly one-quarter of Brazil or 2 million square kilometers (772,204,317 square miles), is one of the world's great biodiversity hotspots -- a mix of grasslands, scrub, and moist gallery forests in a landscape rising from sea level up to 3000 feet. It covers three major river basins and touches each of the country's other biomes: the Amazon, Atlantic rainforest, Pantanal swamp, and Caatinga's spiny forests. It also provides critical habitat for the maned wolf and giant anteater, plus 4,400 plant species found nowhere else on Earth.

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