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Brazil - Country Profile

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Status and Trends of Biodiversity


Brazil is classified among one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries, incorporating 70% of the world’s catalogued animal and plant species. It is estimated that Brazil hosts between 15-20% of all the world’s biological diversity, and the greatest number of endemic species on a global scale. This is an important resource, not only for the environmental services provided, but also for the development and sustainable use opportunities available. More than 200 indigenous peoples and 170 languages represent Brazil’s cultural megadiversity. This large number of local communities and villages store considerable knowledge of flora and fauna species, and the traditional management systems of these natural resources. The contribution of these communities is fundamental for the conservation and sustainable use of the genetic and biological resources of Brazil. The main threats to biodiversity are: fragmentation and lose 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.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

Upon signing the Convention on Biological Diversity, Brazil committed to actions that promote the conservation, sustainable use and the equitable sharing of benefits of the country’s biodiversity. The Ministry of Environment then created the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action plan, whose main objective is the implementation of these commitments through the definition of strategies, programs and actions. This program began in 1998 and the main objectives are: development and publication of strategic studies; elaboration of the National Biodiversity Policy; creation and implementation of the Biodiversity Information Network; elaboration of the National Report for the CBD; proposal for the implementation of the National Biodiversity Policy; and the strengthening of regional cooperation concerning biodiversity issues.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

To better understand Brazil’s extraordinary biodiversity there are several ongoing projects for the identification of species. These include the Ducke Reserve Flora Project, which has recorded approximately 5,000 woody plants over 5 years. Projects aimed at the protection of threatened species include the program for the protection of endangered species of the Brazilian Atlantic forest, which now covers less than 8% of its original surface and is still subject to intense destruction. There is also the Groupers Project which ensures the protection of the itajara grouper for 5 years and reinforces the need for scientific research on its biology. Other projects include the Muriqui Preservation Programme, the Piabanha Projects, the Chelonia Project, and the Turtle Friend Project. There are also several ex-situ conservation programmes such as for the reintroduction of manatees and rock cavies.

The Project for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Brazilian Biodiversity supports the elaboration of a national report on invasive alien species, which will compile important information on the country’s needs and priorities. There is also specific legislation for problematic species and ongoing projects include the Alien Plants project and a Global Invasive Species Program. Sustainable natural resource use initiatives include a financial compensation programme for smallholder farmers who maintain permanent preservation areas with native vegetation cover and an Atlantic forest incentive prize for municipal initiatives fostering a decentralized environmental management approach.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

Considering only the federal units and excluding Private Reserves of the Natural Heritage, approximately 7% of the Brazilian territory is protected under conservation units. Of this area, 43% is under integral protection and 52% is destined for sustainable use. Brazil’s protected areas include 8 Ramsar sites, the largest of which is the Reentrâncias Maranhenses Environmental Protection Area covering over 2.6 million ha. Projects to increase the area under protection include the enlargement of the Grande Sertão Veredas National Park and the Ticuja National Park, as well as the creation of a new ecological station, biological reserve and national park. This will result, among other things, in the addition of 110,243 ha of protected areas to the Atlantic Forest Biome. In addition, management plans were created for 23 protected areas over the period 2002-2004 and several others are under preparation.

Initiatives for Article 8(j)

Mechanisms are in place to allow the participation of traditional knowledge holders in the 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, Brazil supported the elaboration of a synthesis on biodiversity-related traditional knowledge in Brazil through an inventory of 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 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, which involves communities possessing traditional knowledge in the implementation of legislation on access and benefit-sharing, through the creation of a network for information dissemination and for processing complaints.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme