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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Brazil is the most biologically diverse country in the world. It is classified at the top among the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, and second only to Indonesia in terms of species endemism. It contains two biodiversity hotspots (the Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado), six terrestrial biomes and three large marine ecosystems. At least 103,870 animal species and 43,020 plant species are currently known, comprising 70% of the world’s catalogued animal and plant species. It is estimated that Brazil hosts between 15-20% of the world’s biological diversity, with the greatest number of endemic species on a global scale. Brazil’s biodiversity is ever-expanding, with an average of 700 new animal species discovered each year.

Brazil harbors the largest continuous stretch of mangroves in the world (1.3 million hectares) and the only reef environments of the South Atlantic, distributed along 3,000 km of the northeastern coast.

Biodiversity is a hugely important resource, not only in terms of the environmental services it provides but also in regard to the opportunities presented for development and sustainable use. Represented by more than 200 indigenous peoples and 170 languages, Brazil is megadiverse from a cultural perspective as well. This large number of local communities and villages possesses considerable knowledge on flora and fauna species, including on the traditional management systems for these natural resources. The contribution of these communities is therefore fundamental for the conservation and sustainable use of the country’s genetic and biological resources.

As the segment of the population most dependent on natural resources and ecosystem services, the poor are therefore the most vulnerable to their degradation. Over 10 million people in Brazil live on an income which is lower than USD $300 per month, with a significant portion of these people living in rural areas, where dependence on ecosystem services is higher.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The main threats to biodiversity are: fragmentation and loss of habitats, introduction of alien species and exotic illnesses, overexploitation of plants and animals, use of hybrids and monoculture in agro-industry and reforestation programs, pollution and climate change. Habitat loss is by far the most significant cause driving species towards threatened status.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Brazil was one of the first South American countries to fully adopt a National Biodiversity Strategy, composed of a series of macro documents and initiatives developed for implementing the Convention. In 2006, through a participatory process, a set of 51 national biodiversity targets to be implemented by 2010, was approved by the National Biodiversity Commission (CONABIO).

Brazil’s 2020 biodiversity targets were adopted in September 2013 and are aligned with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The targets were developed through an initiative known as "Dialogues on Biodiversity: building the Brazilian strategy for 2020", begun in April 2011, that promoted consultation and the engagement of Brazilian society to strengthen implementation of the COP-10 agreements. The initiative was supported by the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, IUCN, WWF, IPE and the UK Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Brazil has established a number of activities specifically related to implementing the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, including: the establishment of ecological corridors; mosaics of protected areas; sustainable forest management, including non-timber products; sustainable agriculture (e.g. Brazil is implementing a National Strategy for Promoting Integrated Production in Agriculture, with the objectives of promoting sustainable development and improving the competitiveness of Brazilian agribusiness; incentives for small-scale family production; organic agricultural production).

Brazil is the country that created the greater number and extension of protected areas in the world in the 2006-2010 period. By mid-2010, 27.10% of the Brazilian Amazon biome was officially protected, as were 7.33% of the Caatinga; 8.43% of the Cerrado; 8.99% of the Atlantic Forest; 4.79% of the Pantanal; 3.50% of the Pampas; and 3.14% of the Brazilian Coastal and Marine zone (including the territorial sea and the Exclusive Economic Zone). Contributing to the protection of the coastal, marine and freshwater ecological regions and their biodiversity, Brazil has adopted since 1984 the practice of “defeso”, meaning temporary suspension of fishing activities for specific targeted species during their reproductive period. Additionally, the National Protected Areas Plan (PNAP) foresees the use of no-take zones inside and outside protected areas (under SNUC) as a component of a representative system of protected areas. This practice is already being applied by various marine protected areas of sustainable use.

Mechanisms are in place to allow for the participation of traditional knowledge holders in decision-making processes, such as the Genetic Heritage Management Council, the National Biodiversity Commission and the National Environmental Council. Through the National Biodiversity Strategy Project, support has been provided for the development of a synthesis on biodiversity-related traditional knowledge in Brazil through inventorying all work published during the last 20 years on the knowledge and use of biodiversity by traditional peoples in Brazil. Most titles refer to Amazonian populations, followed by coastal and Cerrado populations, but it is worth noting that, of the 206 indigenous nations in Brazil, only 106 have had their traditional knowledge studied. Several projects are being implemented such as Zero Hunger and Sustainable Development in Indigenous Communities, Ethnic Identity and Cultural Heritage of Indigenous Peoples and the Brazilian Indigenous Peoples Program. There is also a Brazilian Program for Valuing and Protecting Traditional Knowledge Associated to Biodiversity, involving communities possessing traditional knowledge in the implementation of legislation on access and benefit-sharing, through the creation of a network for information dissemination and processing complaints.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Brazil has a long history of legal instruments related to environmental and biodiversity conservation. More recently, a more comprehensive system of environmental legislation has been developed. In 2009, the Ministry of Environment updated its inventory of national environmental legislation, identifying that there were 550 legal instruments that related to implementing the global biodiversity targets.

The Brazilian Government has also created a variety of federal funds and a few tax incentives to promote environmental conservation. There are active state-level environmental funds, socio-economic funds and donations from the private sector and international organizations. Mechanisms such as the Green VAT (ICMS Ecológico) are in place to provide tax incentives to individuals or municipalities who invest in conservation.

There is strong emphasis on environmental education initiatives in Brazil, with a strong increase in environmental awareness having occurred between 1992 and 2006. In 2008, the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Education and the Telefônica Company signed an agreement for the creation of a virtual community directed at the environmental education of Brazilian youth.

The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) was divided in 2007. The adjustment of its institutional structure saw the creation of a new institution – the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) – to provide a specific focus on conservation to the federal environmental management.

With the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games taking place in Brazil, the international spotlight will fall on Brazil which will assist with NBSAP implementation. These two events will provide opportunities for Brazil through increased foreign investment as well as challenges for achieving sustainable development. The sustainability strategy developed by FIFA and the LOC aims, not only to mitigate negative impacts, but also to maximize the positive effects of hosting the FIFA World Cup. Initiatives relate to, among other matters, establishing green stadiums, waste management, community support, reducing and offsetting carbon emissions, renewable energy, climate change and capacity development. The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is the first FIFA World Cup to have a comprehensive sustainability strategy.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Brazil has some systems in place to monitor processes (e.g. contracts have been implemented) and actions (e.g. number and size of protected areas created in a given period of time) but has not yet developed an instrument to monitor policy implementation. Therefore, Brazil’s actions to implement biodiversity policies were evaluated to assess NBSAP effectiveness. Only a subset of the national targets are being monitored. To improve capacity for environmental indicator development and monitoring, the Executive Secretariat of the Ministry of Environment created a task force to develop a set of environmental indicators covering the following themes: ozone depletion, climate change, marine and coastal zones, biodiversity and forests.

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  • United Nations Environment Programme