Artificial islands in the Brazilian Semiarid Region

Arnóbio de Mendonça Barreto Cavalcante, Patricy de Andrade Salles


Droughts in Brazil’s semi-arid region have been recorded regularly since the start of colonization by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. The worst one occurred in 1877-1879, during which over half the region’s residents perished. The death toll in the state of Ceará alone was 119 thousand in 1878. As a result of this national tragedy, the government began building dams to form reservoirs. These have made a valuable contribution by providing water for humans, animals and crops. But they also have drawbacks, particularly on the landscape, causing fragmentation and creating artificial islands. Currently the state of Ceará has 130 perennial public reservoirs and 822 artificial islands, according to a study conducted as part of the Ceará Continental Island Inventory Project (2006-2010). These islands range in size from 0.001 hectare (10 m2) to 78.64 ha, with shapes varying from round to highly irregular and distances from the reservoir shoreline ranging from 2 to 943 meters.


Reservoir; Dryland; landscape fragmentation

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