They may not be household names, like the Amazon rainforest or the Great Barrier Reef. But these forests, grasslands, savannas, and other ecosystems are just as vital to the health of our planet. They support an incredible range of plants and animals, as well as millions of people and their communities.
They also play a critical role in fighting climate change, helping regulate the Earth’s temperature and natural cycles by pulling harmful, heat-trapping CO2 out of the atmosphere. Explore some of the lesser-known ecosystems that do so much to keep our planet livable.
When it comes to forests, the Amazon rainforest usually grabs the spotlight. But the nearby Cerrado, a wooded grassland covering more than 20% of Brazil, is equally important. It’s the world’s most biodiverse savanna, home to an astonishing 5% of the Earth’s plants and animals. Jaguars, giant anteaters, maned wolves, and armadillos live within this ecosystem, which also provides essential services to local communities and stores immense amounts of carbon in the ground.
In recent decades, agircultural expansion for beef and soy production has driven rapid deforestation across the region. As grasslands are plowed up, they release an estimated 250 million tons