Brazilian Nature - Mystery and Destiny

Brazil has one of the world’s richest diversities of natural environments and animal and plant species. It has six large biomas - Amazonia, Caatinga (scrubland), Atlantic Forest, Cerrado (savannah), Pantanal (wetlands) and Pampa – originally distributed across 8.5 million square kilometers of the country and more than 8 thousand kilometers of coast. This means that Brazil is home to between 15 and 20 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity.

This variety of landscapes and of ways of life attracted European naturalists since the XVI century, but principally from the XIX century onwards. With the transfer of the Portuguese Court to Brazil in 1808, the then colony opened up to international commerce and also to the visits and scientific study of naturalists from several nationalities. One of them, the German Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius, after a three-year journey through the country (1817-1820), was responsible for what is still the most complete survey of plants in Brazil, the Flora brasiliensis, published between 1840 and 1906, initially by Martius himself and, after his death, by August Eichler and Ignatz Urban.

Today, Brazilian specialists attempt to gauge more precisely this rare natural patrimony, so that it can be conserved and exploited in the best possible way. The State of São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), one of Brazil’s principal agencies for the funding of research, has had an outstanding role in this endeavor.

A partnership between FAPESP and the Berlin Botanical Museum has made it possible to stage the exhibition Brazilian Nature: Mystery and Destiny, displaying just a taste of this biological wealth and some of the scientific activities to preserve it. Ultimately, the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity signify the very survival of humanity.

Next page