Framed by imposing rocky cliffs, the Encantada waterfall cascades down 283 meters (928 feet) until it reunites with the Samina riverbed. Sneaking through the canyon among rocks and trees, the waterway marks one of the borders of Chapada Diamantina National Park, in the State of Bahia, Brazil. To its north lies a fully protected area. To its south, a still unprotected territory. This place, known as Serra da Chapadinha, is like its neighbor in many ways — it houses threatened species, water reservoirs and an endless supply of scenic beauty. The mountain range, however, remains vulnerable to mining, real estate speculation, deforestation and hunting.
Ongoing mineral prospecting near rivers and springs has raised the alarm among locals, who are concerned about the region’s water supply. To ensure the range’s protection, the “Save Serra da Chapadinha” (originally “Salve a Serra da Chapadinha”) movement was created, setting off a race against time to establish a conservation unit, the official name that protected natural areas receive under Brazilian legislation.
The popular mobilization was taken up by state representative Hilton Coelho. At the end of May, he forwarded a recommendation (n° 26.650/23) to Governor Jerônimo Rodrigues to transform Serra da Chapadinha into a protected area. The document emphasizes the need for legislation that grants the “preservation and conservation of one of the most important water recharge areas responsible for the water supply of 80 municipalities, including the capital, in the State of Bahia.”