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New study measures carbon storage in Brazil’s Cerrado and impact on climate



A study being conducted in CBA’s 32,000-hectare Legado Verdes do Cerrado reserve in Niquelândia, a municipality in Brazil’s Midwest state of Goiás, will provide important inputs into climate-change research and policymaking. The study is developing models to more accurately calculate the amount of carbon that cerrado vegetation captures and stores via photosynthesis. These methods can be used to estimate the impacts that deforestation in Brazil’s cerrado can have on the environment and ultimately on society.

The study, titled “Allometric Equations for the Cerrado”, is an initiative of the Brazilian Forestry Service (SFB) in collaboration with the Federal University of Goiás (UFG), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Legado Verdes do Cerrado. 

Research on the impacts of forest fires has shown that the Cerrado plays an important role as a carbon sink. “When cerrado vegetation is burned, much of the carbon it stores is released into the atmosphere. To further our research on global warming, it is important that we understand the role the Cerrado plays in climate change,” says Fábio Venturoli, a professor at the Federal University of Goiás who is leading the study.

Venturoli explains that there is still much uncertainty in calculating carbon stocks contained in organic plant matter (biomass) in different cerrado landscapes, which makes it difficult to estimate offsets for environmental damage, such as loss of biological diversity and changes to soil properties. It is here that the “Allometric Equations for the Cerrado” can be used by the scientific community, environmental agencies and technicians to measure the impact from deforestation in the Cerrado and, conversely, the benefits from forest preservation.

“If we know the potential carbon stock in an area of untouched cerrado, such as the Legado reserve, we can provide data to more accurately calculate how much carbon and organic matter is released if vegetation is cleared, for example. Equipped with this information, the parties responsible for the deforestation can be required to provide offsets equivalent to the damage that has been caused to society,” he says.

For Venturoli, the Legado Verdes do Cerrado reserve provided the ideal setting for the study. “The area is very well-preserved, with significant portions of the original biome remaining intact. This allowed us to conduct a very comprehensive study. Through multiple repetitions of our analyses, we can mathematically validate our models against close-to-real-world data, minimizing uncertainty,” he explains.  

In addition to developing new models for measuring impacts from deforestation, data from the study will also be incorporated in Brazil’s National Forest Inventory (IFN) and the Global Forest Resources Assessment, a FAO report on the world’s forests. Two doctoral theses within the UFG’s Graduate Program in Agronomy will also be produced as part of the project.

Study Development

The “Allometric Equations for the Cerrado” study began with a field survey by a team of forestry engineers, professors and students in the Legado Verdes do Cerrado reserve to map out and select areas for the study. Four forest types were selected for their higher capacity for carbon storage: cerradão, gallery forests, seasonal forests, and typical cerrado. 

The researchers then marked out 100-square-meter parcels in which they measured the amount of leaf litter (the layer of leaves, twigs and other decomposing organic matter); deadwood (dead branches and trunks lying on the forest floor); undergrowth (grass and brush vegetation); and tree species. One-kilogram samples of these materials were collected, weighed on a precision scale in the field, and sent to the UFG Forest Inventory laboratory in Goiânia.

The material was dried until all moisture was removed, and then weighed a second time. By comparing mass values, the researchers determined the amount of biomass contained in the samples.

The next step in the study will be to determine the carbon content in samples collected from the Legado Verdes do Cerrado reserve. The project team has collected approximately 2,000 samples that will now be sent to the Biofix laboratory at the Federal University of Paraná, which has the needed equipment to determine carbon content. 

About Legado Verdes do Cerrado

With approximately 80% of its area consisting of native cerrado, Legado Verdes do Cerrado is a 32,000-hectare area owned by CBA – Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio, a Votorantim S.A. portfolio company. Located some three hours from Brasilia, it consists of two centers: Three rivers spring in the Engenho center: Peixe, São Bento and Traíras, which provides the entire water supply for public consumption in Niquelândia/GO. This is home to Legado Verdes do Cerrado, 23,000 hectares of land where scientific research, environmental education initiatives and new economy activities take place, including the production of plants and reforestation; while 5,000 hectares are dedicated to farming, soy production and forestry activities. The 5,000-hectare Santo Antônio Serra Negra center contains virgin native Cerrado savannah vegetation and a part of the Lago da Serra lake.

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About CBA

Founded in 1955, Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio (CBA) is a vertically integrated, sustainable producer of high-quality aluminum products.

With hydroelectric generation capacity for 100% of our energy requirement, CBA’s operations span both bauxite mining and processing into primary aluminum (ingots, billets, rod and slabs) and semi-fabricated products (plate, sheet, foil and profiles). Working closely with customers, CBA also develops tailored solutions and services for the packaging and transportation markets, helping customers to produce more lightweight, durable and sustainable products.

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Media information:

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Sirlene Milhomem (62) 98176-0297 [email protected]

Luísa Gomes (62) 99911-2950 [email protected]

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