The Human Dimension in the Espinhaço Mountains: Land Conversion and Ecosystem Services (Book chapter)

Publicado en In: Fernandes G. (ed), Ecology and Conservation of Mountaintop grasslands in Brazil, pp. 501-530 

Oliveira Neves, A.C., Barbieri, A.F., Pacheco, A.A., Resende, F.M., Braga, R.F., Azevedo, A. and Fernandes, G.W.

Año de publicación 2016
  • Evolutionary Ecology & Biodiversity, sala 172, Departamento de Biologia Geral, ICB, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Caixa Postal 486, Belo Horizonte 30161970, MG, Brazil
  • Department of Demography and Center for Regional Development and Planning (Cedeplar), Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Av. Antônio Carlos, 6627, Belo Horizonte 31270-901, MG, Brazil
  • Conservation Biogeography Lab, Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Caixa Postal 131, Goiânia 74001-970, GO, Brazil
  • Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação de Invertebrados, Universidade Federal de Lavras, Caixa Postal 3037, Lavras 37200-000, MG, Brazil
  • Instituto Biotrópicos, Praça JK, 25, Diamantina 39100-000, MG, Brazil
  • Department of Biology, Stanford University, P O Box 94305, Stanford, CA, USA


Proyecto CRN3036


The Espinhaço Mountains and their rupestrian grasslands hold significant historical, cultural, and economic value. The discovery of large gold deposits in Espinhaço in the 1700s started an enduring extractive tradition that persists until today. Since then, other important extractive-economic cycles took place in the region for example, gold (18th and 19th centuries), diamond (19th and 20th), iron ore mining, gemstones, ornamental stones, sand, and plant extractivism (20th and 21st). Mining generated wealth for the Portuguese Crown and Brazil at a considerable environmental cost. However, in the 20th century, the Espinhaço Mountains developed additional values, focused on treasures of another kind. An astonishing and unique biodiversity occurs (with some of the world&rsquos highest richness values and several endemic species) over the colossal mineral deposits, especially in the rupestrian grasslands. This biodiversity contributes to cultural activities, provides people with medicines, raw materials and water, and maintains three major Brazilian river basins. Recent studies have translated into monetary metrics some of the services that these mountain ecosystems deliver to humans and encouraged more sustainable practices. Here, we offer conservation mechanisms to maintain biodiversity, as well as a proposal for land use management to promote sustainable using the wealth generated by mining.