Untitled Document
Geography
National System of Protected Areas
Table of Protected Areas
Map of Protected Areas

Geography

Brazil is more than 8.5 million km2 and has almost 7,500 kilometers of coastline. The climate varies between equatorial, tropical, and subtropical. There are approximately 180 million inhabitants distributed unevenly throughout the country. The population density of the coastal states can reach 306 inhabitants per km2 while in the Amazon region it is only 1.1 inhabitants per km2.

There are seven defined biomes in Brazil: Amazon, Caatinga, Campos Sulinos, Cerrado, Atlantic Forest, Pantanal and Coastal Ecosystems. In a recent survey coordinated by Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (IBAMA), Brazil was divided in 78 terrestrial ecoregions. Areas with similar features were grouped in the same ecoregion in order to help IBAMA better prioritize and plan its biodiversity conservation activities.

Brazilian biodiversity is among the highest in the world, embracing about 10% of the 1.4 million species known to science. Two Brazilian biomes, the Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado, have been identified among the 25 biodiversity "hotspots" due to their exceptional concentrations of endemic species and their high rates of habitat loss (Myers et al. 2000).



National System of Protected Areas

Brazil's current protected areas system, the National System of Natural Conservation Units, was created in 2000 by Federal Law No 9.985. It is composed of federal, state and municipal conservation units. These conservation units are divided in two separate categories: full protection conservation units and sustainable use conservation units.

National parks, ecological stations, biological preserves, natural monuments and wildlife refuges are all considered full protection conservation units. Legally, only non-consumptive resource uses are allowed within the full protection conservation units, as the objective of these units is nature preservation. The sustainable use conservation units include national forests, fauna reserves, extractive reserves, relevant ecological interest areas, sustainable development reserves, environmental protection areas and natural heritage private preserves. The goal of the sustainable use conservation units, as the name suggests, is to combine conservation with sustainable resource use.

IBAMA is the federal agency responsible for the federal conservation units, among many other things. The headquarters is in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. IBAMA is part of the Ministry of the Environment, which is the agency responsible for the execution of the national politics of the environment. See their website at: http://www.ibama.gov.br/.

Today, 2.8% of Brazil's territory is represented by full protection conservation units and 3.5% by sustainable use conservation units. None of Brazil's biomes is satisfactorily protected. Only about 10% of the Amazon biome and 13% of the coastal ecosystem biome are protected by federal conservation units, while others such as Pantanal or the transition area between the Cerrado and the Amazon have less than one percent protection.

Realizing its responsibility, Brazil has taken important steps towards protecting its environment and biodiversity. During the last five years, Brazil created several new conservation units totaling more than 12.3 million hectares. This represents a 30% increase in federally protected areas. The most notable new conservation unit is Tumucumaque Mountains National Park, which, with 3.9 million hectares, is the largest tropical protected area in the world. In addition, over the next 10 years, the Brazilian government plans to protect an additional 50 million hectares of the Amazon region.

Table of Protected Areas
Map of Protected Areas


 
 
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