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Women in science: working to protect the Cerrado Savannah



On the one hand we have Brazil’s Cerrado, which needs help as more than 50% of its landmass has been devastated.  On the other hand, Brazil is emerging of one of the countries with the greatest presence of women leading scientific research, according to a report published by The Global Research Landscape. If these two situations are taken together, we begin to understand why they are so important to protecting the Cerrado’s fauna and flora. The relationship between women and nature runs deep, from the work of women in maroon populations or simple farmers, who produce food and look after the land, to women dedicated to scientific research and ecological tourism, for example.  

In Legado Verdes do Cerrado (LVC), a Private Sustainable Development Reserve owned by CBA (Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio), the female force spearheading scientific research and other fronts includes women such as Fabiana Pureza de Almeida (46), who has a Masters degree in sustainable development and biodiversity conservation and is the Reserve’s socio-environmental supervisor. 

Fabiana conceived a participatory monitoring of biodiversity which will begin this March and will build on work already carried out by the Reserve. In November 2020 the trustees of Legado Verdes do Cerrado set up seven strategically located camera traps to gather more precise data about local fauna and flora. “The motivation to create participatory monitoring arose when I noticed the interest amongst employees working in the field every day recording meetings with animals, their footprints, carcasses of fallen prey and submitted the photos or reports with great interest and even curiosity, depending on the situation”, she says.  

This monitoring began in November 2020 and has recorded animals including the jaguar, cougar, maned wolf and the giant anteater.  Fabiana Pureza believes the initiative is important mainly because it values the exchange of knowledge and helps identify and better understand the movement and feeding habits of the local fauna. “The data collected is expected to be used in the future to identify the species inhabiting the Reserve and to decide the management actions necessary for their conservation”, she explains.

“Legado Verdes do Cerrado is an ongoing source of inspiration and professional challenges. Combining production and biodiversity conservation in an area occupying 32 thousand hectares teeming with life, that carries out multiple activities in multiple areas, makes us want to learn more and more about it”, she emphasizes.  She also points out that there are equal opportunities for men and women in the Reserve. 

They seek integration of society and nature – Women are increasingly participating in the conservation of environmental and natural resources, as they are playing an important role in environmental education and research. Legado Verdes do Cerrado’s administrative technician, Letícia Oliveira Felix (25), says that she found equal opportunities to use her expertise in the Reserve. “Women should fight and strive to overcome existing social and professional inequalities”, she says. 

Graduated in Tourism Management and post-graduated in Environmental Management, Letícia was in charge of the organization and logistics of Legado Experience, the first event held by Legado Verdes do Cerrado to nurture sustainable tourism in the region. Her resume boasts collaboration in the development of a study into the public use of the Reserve’s areas and environmental education activities to encourage people to look after the Cerrado. 

“I began my work at Legado Verdes do Cerrado in 2018, when I successfully applied for the position of tourism intern. It was one of the most important days of my life, because people did not have much faith in this area. Being at Legado Verdes do Cerrado made me put classroom theory into practice and has taught me a great deal more. My professional development is gradually taking shape and I feel the Reserve is always preparing me for any professional challenge” said Letícia Félix.

According to the director of Reservas Votorantim, David Canassa, since the onset Legado Verdes do Cerrado has sought staff with a broad range of skills and genders, for all activities. “In Legado Verdes do Cerrado we strive for a diverse and inclusive environment, because we believe this is how more growth opportunities can be created. The work taking place at the Cerrado Biodiversity Production Center is a prime example of this, with many women changing places and enabling growth and the innovation proposed in Reserve’s model. We also received a large number of researchers and interns helping in the task of protecting the Cerrado by bringing a range of perspectives and capabilities. “Everybody benefits from diversity”, concluded the director.

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, an investee of Votorantim S.A. 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-thousand-hectare Santo Antônio Serra Negra center contains virgin native Cerrado savannah vegetation and is partly bordered by 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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