Environment Field Note

Chapada Diamantina: The Ecological Treasure of Northeast Brazil

Abstract: I recently had the chance to visit a beautiful area of Brazil called the Chapada Diamantina, which means Diamond Plateau in English. The area lies in a mountain range, and there are beautiful rock formations, waterfalls and rivers. There are a variety of ecosystems, so you can see many different plants and animals here that live in different climates.

Introduction: How are people connected to the environment?

A natural cave

This area has a long history of being used by different people. Long ago, this was the home of native Indians and nobody knew about it. When settlers came over from Portugal, they built towns and farms for themselves. Soon after, they discovered that the area was filled with gold and diamonds, so this became an area popular for mining. It is called Chapada Diamantina, Diamond Plateau, because of all the minerals that people discovered there. More and more people came to find diamonds, and colonial cities were built for all the new people that arrived. Today, many tourists come to the area to see the beautiful mountains and waterfalls. A national park was created and tourism is a large part of the economy.

What makes this environment special or different?

Me and my friends in front of a rock formation

You might be thinking, how were people able to find so many diamonds? This area is special because thousands of years ago, the land went through a natural process called erosion. Erosion is when land is worn away by wind or water. This process created tall hills made of minerals, where the diamonds are found. These natural processes also created beautiful waterfalls, hills and large caves. Because this area is mountainous, there are different ecosystems and climates depending on how high up you are. You can find many different and unique kinds plants and animals here. Most of the land is arid, which means it is dry with cactuses growing and little grass.  However, there are some areas that are luscious, with many trees and plants.

What parts of this environment help people to live here?

This area has land that is very good for farming because the soil has many minerals in it. Because it is warm here for most of the year, there is also more time to plant and grow fruits and vegetables. Many different kinds of fruits and vegetables can grow here! Some examples aresugar cane, tropical fruits like coconut and mango and root vegetables. The area also has many rivers, which people can use to water their crops and to fish. The diamonds and gold that people found used to help people live here, but they are long gone.

What challenges do people face living in this environment?

A big challenge that people that living here face is that it is very isolated. Because of the large hills and mountains, towns and communities are separated from each other. It is difficult to travel from one place to another. Because it is so separated, it can be hard to get certain things that people cannot grow or make themselves. Another challenge is that the rivers do not have enough fish. People have fished too much and now the fish population is at risk!

How have people been adapting to this environment?

Look how high up I climbed!

Now that all of the diamonds are gone, tourism is the main activity in this area. The trails made by the Portuguese miners are now used as hiking trails for adventurous tourists. This is a place famous for ecotourism which means that  tourists go to see naturally beautiful landscapes. Many local people now work as guides that show tourists around.

When I visited, I got to see the tallest waterfall in Brazil, go snorkeling in a cave and climb the mountains that used to have minerals. It was absolutely beautiful, take a look at my pictures! It is important to remember that tourism can also bring many problems, like increasing trash and waste, greater use of waterand cutting down trees to build hotels and restaurants. Since many local people work in tourism, less people work in traditional jobs as farmers and fisherman, which are important too.  There are many good and bad parts to tourism, can you think of any more?

 

This is an arid area on top of a hill

 

Some hills made by erosion where diamonds could once be found

 

This is a waterfall I hiked on my visit

 

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