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The Brazilian environment is incredibly rich in natural resources, not to mention the first-place winner of the world’s biodiversity. Many species living in the rainforest are thought to be undiscovered. Unfortunately, these precious areas are under considerable threat; even as new species are discovered, others slide into extinction before our eyes.

Extensive logging and rubber exploration are responsible for deforestation on a massive scale. An area the size of a small country is destroyed every year. In addition to providing habitat for uncounted species the Amazon is capable of absorbing a huge amount of carbon dioxide, which is essential in controlling the world’s rising climate. The Brazilian government is often unable to regulate logging practices, as many logging operations are unofficial and difficult to detect in the rainforest’s vast reaches.

However, Brazil has been successful in creating several protected areas. As of today, the country has thirty-five national parks, twenty-three biological reserves, six ecological reserves, and twenty-one ecological stations.

A short drive inland, a very unusual combination of sand and fresh water can be found at Lencois Maranhenses National Park. The desert-like sand dunes of this national park develop surprisingly large, deep lagoons during every rainy season. Later, during the dry season, they dry out so completely that most lagoons vanish entirely. This allows the sand dunes to move, so that next year’s lagoons will never look exactly the same.

The cerrado is a tropical savannah which can be found mostly on the southern part of the Planalto Brasileiro, towards the Paraguay border. Although this region is one of the biologically richest savannahs on earth, much of this region is being converted to agricultural monoculture with the assistance of government subsidies. The historical city of Goias and the famous hot pools of Caldas Novas can both be found in the north part of this region, a short drive from Brasilia and a slightly longer one from Rio de Janeiro and San Paulo.

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