City of Curitiba, Brazil


The City of Curitiba is on a plateau 932 m (3107 ft) above sea level in the Subtropical Zone of Southern Brazil. It is located in the First Plateau Paranaense, between the Serra do Mar (Mountain Range of the Sea) and the Devonian Escarpment of Sao Luiz de Puruna. The city is geologically based on rocks of Proterozoic Crystalline Basement (between 2.6 and million years old), Cenozoic Sedimentary Basin (up to 65 million years old) and Alluvium Sediments from the Quaternary and Cenozoic period.

The land is predominantly flat with flooded areas, which are qualities that contribute to the typical mild and humid winter in Curitiba, where the temperature ranges from 0 to 13 degrees Celsius. During the summer, temperatures are between 21 and 32 degrees Celsius. The city is located in a transitional zone between two types of Ombrophilous Forests - Mixed (Araucaria) and Dense (Atlantic).

Curitiba has a population of 1.727.010 inhabitants that, when equally spread on its 430.9 km2 area, accounts for a density of about 4 inhabitants/ km2. The Human Development Index (HDI) of Curitiba in 2000 was 0.856, which is “high” when compared with other Brazilian cities during the same period. From its total area, 17.9% is classified green area, and the ratio of green areas per inhabitant is 51.5 m2.

Curitiba is home of many species such as:
  • 37 species of fishes, the most common being from the Astyanax spp. (lambaris);
  • 35 species of reptiles, with a predominance of snakes (Liotyphlops beui, Atractus reticulatus, Philodryas patagoniensis, Liophis miliaris, Sibynomorphus neuwiedi, Oxyrhopus clathratus);
  • 8 species of amphibious (Bufonidae, Leptodactylidae and Hylidae families);
  • 200 different types of birds (Turdus rufiventris, Pitangus sulphuratus, Furnaris rufus, Rupornis magnirostris, Polyborus plancus, Vanellus chilensis, Columbina talpacori, Troglodytes aedon, Zonotriachia capensis, etc);
  • 37 species of mammals such as wild dogs (Cerdocyon thous), agutis (Dasyprocta azarae, Aguti paca), squirrels (Sciurus ingrami), deers (Mazama spp.), otters (Lontra Longicaudis), bats (Chiroptera), marsupials (Didelphimorphia), rodents (Rodentia), capybaras (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris), nutrias (Myocastor coypus), armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus), Brazilia guinea-pig (Cavia aperea), skunks (Didelphis sp.)


The conservation of biodiversity of any environment is based on the maintenance of its balance, which is mainly characterized by the integrity of its biotic and non-biotic components. The growth of cities changes this balance, which causes the disappearance of many species, and the damage and loss of entire natural ecosystems.


The issue of maintenance of trees lining streets is a complex biodiversity topic. Due to the large number of trees planted (300,000), differences in the date of planting and variation in size and height, urban trees are difficult to maintain.

Urban trees bear a high mortality rate. Of all the plantations made, there is a loss of 20-50%, depending on weather conditions, quality of the plant or vandalism. Removal of dead trees and pruning are time-consuming and is a delicate process, depending on the size of the tree and variety, availability of electricity, location of groundwater pipes, traffic etc. New tree plantations require intense monitoring and time, as they need fertilization and constant watering in the early months.

It should be stressed that the providers of ‘wiring’ services, such as electricity, telephone, and cable, do not contribute to the maintenance of urban trees. However, when these services affect the maintenance of urban trees, procedures are often not consistent or regular.

Thus the maintenance of urban trees is a difficult and complex task and the city is constantly searching for the most appropriate way to implement this service.


In Curitiba, urban growth and human activities led to profound environmental changes, such as the damage or destruction of key areas for wildlife shelter, food and reproduction. Changes resulting from, for example, habitat loss and fragmentation of natural fields and forests, draining of marshes and pollution of rivers and lakes and the sealing of the soil due to the process of urbanization (i.e. paving of streets), have impeded or halted the reproduction of many species, causing severe reduction and even the disappearance of species that a few decades ago could be considered common in the municipality.

Many mammalian species that originally occupied the region are threatened or already extinct. In this case may be mentioned species that need large protected areas, such as large cats (Felidae family) like the Panther and the Felis concolor; species that depend on continuous wooded areas such as the Cebus apella primate (monkey-nail) and the Alouatta guariba (Red Howler Monkey); and species that have suffered intense pressure from hunting, such as the Tapirus terrestris (anta).


The rapid growth of urban population and industrialization put severe pressure on water resources and inhibited the ability of many cities to protect their environment (Agenda 21, 1996). As cities are growing, so is the increase in floods due to the impermeability of soil resulting from paving and river channeling. The production of sediments associated with solid waste, and domestic and industrial sewage also increase significantly.

The urban rivers are severely impacted by human activities. There is a growing need to present solutions and strategies that minimize the effects of this type of environmental degradation. Although there is a large amount of water in Curitiba, the growth of the city compromises the water quality of these rivers.

Concern about water resources has always been part of government programs; however, it has been shown that in practice, the mere existence of infrastructure for sanitation, the legal framework and the assistance of public institutions have not been enough to solve the problems of urban rivers.

Another obstacle for the management of water resources is the lack of integration of institutions, in all spheres, creating inefficient ad hoc and emergency actions. Institutional actions are limited to the institutional territory of the municipality, which complicates the administration of water resources and the designation of the river basin as a unit of water management.

The great challenge of managing water resources is the promotion of actions that enable the implementation of an integrated and participatory management system, serving as a basis for the protection and conservation of water in the city.


In Curitiba, the concern with the quality of the environment appears already in the 1940s, with the elaboration of the Agache Plan, one of the first implemented urban management plans in the country. In this document contained proposals for the basic sanitation, solutions for overcrowding of streets and roads, and the structuring of special sectors for housing, commerce and industry.

However, the annual demographic growth of 7% between 1950s and 1960s demanded a new reorganization, which was developed at the Preliminary Urban Plan presented in 1965. The city passes, then, to be conceived as a whole organic unit in two scales: a structural one leading to the major demands and to the future; the other scale guided by daily demands, and dedicated to the urban planning at human scale.

In this context, the tools to direct the development of the urban fabric are the public transport, the road system, and the land use. The prioritization of the public transport is considered as one of the most important polices from the environmental point of view, therefore, as it decreases fuel consumption around in the city – which today is 20% less than the national average – contributing, in this way, to the conservation of an important non renewable resource, and to decrease air pollution significantly.

With the approval of the Federal Law 10.257/01 (2001) establishing the Statute of the City, all Brazilian cities with a population exceeding 20,000 inhabitants had to develop Master Plans, with the goal of establishing their course of development.

Although Curitiba’s Master Plan was adopted by Municipal Law 2.626/66 in 1966, both the Statute of the City and a new perspective on urban management prompted the revision of the city’s Master Plan.

In Articles 20, XV and 88, VI of Municipal Law 11.266/04 established the need for the preparation of the Plan for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development:

Art 20. The general guidelines of the municipal environmental policy are:

XV-to annually reduce the emission of pollutants harmful to health, into the air, soil and water, according to the Municipal Plan of Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development, considering the international protocols on the subject signed by Brazil.

The Curitiba’s Plan for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development has being since then developed. It encompasses the following issues:

1.1. Resources from Atmosphere
1.2. Green Areas
1.3. Fauna
1.4. Water
1.5. Geology
1.6. Environmental Liability

2.1. Environmental Education
2.2. Solid Waste
2.3. Urban Noise
2.4. Protected Areas
2.5. Heritage
2.6. Environmental Information Systems
2.7. Legislation


1.1. Resources from Atmosphere

Air quality monitoring in Curitiba is a joint activity between the State of Parana (subnational level), the City of Curitiba and two surrounding cities - Araucaria and Colombo. The State of Parana sets the air quality criteria, the legislation, the air monitoring stations and the public information system. The city provides the public area in which monitoring stations are installed. It also controls the activities that generate air pollution through environmental licensing and through the handling of public complaints and inspection.

1.2. Green Areas

1.2.1. Legislation

Starting in the 1970s, the maintenance of green areas in Curitiba was mainly focused in restrictive measures. Evidence is the approval of Municipal Law 4557 in 1973, which established the need for prior public authorization for the cutting of trees. Over the year, instead of just setting restrictions, the City of Curitiba developed tools for compensating and encouraging the protection of green areas on private property without burdening public finances.

In 1974, The City of Curitiba became responsible for its green areas through an agreement with the federal Brazilian government (Brazilian Institute of Forest Development-IBDF, which is called today Brazilian Institute of Environment and Development-IBAMA).

On January 13th, 1986, the Municipal Law 6819 established Forests of Permanent Preservation, where the use of land containing native vegetation is restricted.

In 1988, the first survey estimating the forest cover in Curitiba was conducted, in partnership with the Foundation for Research Forest of Parana - FUPEF. They concluded that there were 50.15 m2 of green area per inhabitant and that 15.06% of the area of the city was covered by forest vegetation.

It is important note that this "green area" is composed exclusively of mass leaf cover and massive forested areas and excludes lawns and lakes.

In 1993 the Municipal Law 8353 was adopted, which updates the Law 6819/86, but maintains the concepts on the Forests of Permanent Preservation. This law updates values and definitions, such as that of a tree, and brings a new perspective to the subject.

Noteworthy is the fact that the municipal legislation, since the 1980s, provides tax and development incentives for the preservation of green areas. Property taxes can be reduced by 100%, if landowners maintain 70 to 100% of native forests in medium or adult growth stages. When the maintenance of native forests restricts horizontal development, the municipal legislation provides for the vertical gain of construction on another area. Since 2006, land owners that have properties that are completely (100%) covered by native forests can relocate their acquired rights of land development to other areas that are less sensitive to forest protection.

1.2.2. Afforestation Plan: Tree Policy

As an important factor for the organization of Curitiba’s system of Green Areas, public afforestation maintains the ratio of green area per capita in satisfactory levels, therefore, significantly improving the quality of the urban environment. It is estimated that the trees resulting from urban afforestation activity contribute for a ratio of green area of 3.40m2 per inhabitant.

The path of Curitiba through increasing good rates of green area started in 1974 with the development of the Plan of Urban Afforestation. In its early stages, the plan aimed the beautification of the urban landscape. However, as the plan was being implemented, it was adjusted to increase the ratio of green areas as a mean to alleviate the impact of built areas and soil impermeability, and to decrease air and noise pollution, particularly in regions that are lacking green areas.

This adjustment of the original Plan of Afforestation is taking the proportion of a Master Plan. The priorities of this renewed Afforestation Plan are to reduce excessive aridity and sealing of land, in particular the land that has been used to the provision of social housing to low income population, to expand the tree lining planting on streets not yet equipped with urban infrastructure, to enlarge the index of tree coverage of parks and woods, and to preserve biodiversity in urban areas through the prioritization of afforestation with indigenous species.

Until 1990, Curitiba had approximately 140,000 trees planted, not counting afforestation made with the intention of increasing the density of trees in forests, parks, squares and other recreational areas. The current structure of the Municipal Secretariat of the Environment is capable of producing some 150,000 seedlings per year.

The Municipal Secretariat of the Environment maintains a botanical garden and three green houses for the annual production of 150,000 seedlings of native and exotic tree species, 16,000 seedlings of fruit trees, 260,000 seedlings of flowers, foliage and underbrush, on top of the total maintenance of 350,000 seedlings. Curitiba can meet most of their demands, allowing adequate planning of urban afforestation.

As a continuous process, the Afforestation Plan persists today with an urban tree census, which is managed by the city. Following the tree census, the city intends, to develop a Plan of Action according to boroughs, which will consist of providing interventions to be implemented, such as plantations, removals, pruning, relocations and substitutions.

1.3. Fauna

The efforts of the municipality to preserve its fauna is found in the maintenance of an important center of research, the Museum of Natural History of the Capão-Imbuia, which resulted from merging of two important institutes: the Institute of Natural History and the Natural Resources Program of the Agronomic Institute of Parana.

In 1979, the Municipal Secretariat of the Environment began to manage the most complete regional scientific collection composed of zoological, botanical, geologic and paleontologic material collected in the State of Paraná, in addition to a significant collection of taxidermies intended for exhibition to the public. Included in this collection are also the herbarium Per Karl Dusén and a major library.

At its early stage, the management of such a collection has focused on the reorganization of the different collections being combined, and the enlargement and complementation of the collection. In 1982, it began the research work focused on the fauna in state parks regarding mastzoology, ornithology, ictiology, entomology and herpetology. In 1985, research activity was intensified with financial support to projects in the most different areas of expertise of the Municipal Secretariat of the Environment. Some results from this period are the preparation of the Preliminary List of Birds of Curitiba, ictiologic assessment in the basin of the river Iguaçu, assessment of the flora of hydrographic basins of the Metropolitan Region, research on medicinal plants and on phytosociology of municipal parks and forests, as well the of micro basin assessment regarding water pollution of the Barigui and the Bethlehem rivers.

The involvement with the applied research led the Museum of Natural History to undertake work aiming at sanitation and environmental control. This important branch of research has, contributed effectively to the development of a data bank on the fauna and flora of the state of Parana, also financially supporting, through technical guidance, the Environmental Education Program in the city.

Now a day, a new concept of applicability of research is been developed through the work in the areas of environment impact assessment, and the implementation of Protected Areas Management Plans. The directions to be followed by the work of the Museum of Natural History go beyond the scope of pure research. Special Projects are being developed such as the Viva Barigui Project, which predicts a long-term plan to restore the Barigui River Basin.

The inventories, monitoring and management of urban wildlife activities are conducted by the Zoo Department (MAZ), which is linked to the Municipal Secretariat of the Environment (SMMA).

The monitoring of the urban fauna of the municipality is carried out mainly in areas designated for conservation, such as municipal parks and areas of environmental protection.

The information raised about urban fauna is communicated to the population of Curitiba through different means and activities. In addition to the promotion of environmental education, there is the publication of books, scientific articles and diagnostics for the management of the units of conservation of the municipality. Specific information about wildlife and fauna is also available to citizens. The information that is most often requested by the population concerns synanthropic insects and poisonous animals that have been found in residential areas and inside people’s homes.

1.4. Water

Since the 1970s, Curitiba has working on alternatives to minimize the negative impacts of urbanization on rivers. An example of this was the construction of parks along the rivers with artificial lakes, which retain the water for longer periods of time, minimizing flooding downstream. In 1972, with the main objective of controlling the flooding, river parks were created along the river Barigui with 1,400,000 square meters and the river St. Lawrence with 203,918 sq metres. These river parks also serve as places of recreation for the population and prevent the illegal occupation on river banks (spontaneous settlements and illegal parceling).

Other alternatives developed by the Municipality to minimize the effects of urbanization are the implementation of the programs for (1) environmental education, (2) inspection and monitoring, (3) drafting of legislation and (4) infrastructure works.

1.5. Geology

Mining still occurs in Curitiba consisting mainly of extraction of sand and clay for construction. The activity is controlled (or should be) by all levels of government and NGOs. As a whole, the activity must conform to the Mining Code which sometimes conflicts with the Forest Code and the Water Code and other environmental laws. In the municipality of Curitiba mineral extraction is regulated by the Municipal Decree No. 556/98 and 838/97, which highlights, among other requirements, the preparation of an Environmental Report, which, inter alia, must include an Environmental Monitoring Plan for the area and strategies for extraction and environmental recovery.

1.6. Environmental Liability

In the municipality of Curitiba, environmental liabilities are the contamination of groundwater, subsoil, soil, buildings, equipment and materials, as well as the degradation of the natural characteristics of a site, such as vegetation or water quality, due to activities, occupations or businesses that have been developed without Licensing and Environmental Monitoring.

The environmental licensing of potentially polluting activities in Curitiba is regulated by the Municipal Decree No. 1153/04 (2004).

One of the activities with the greatest potential for environmental liabilities is gas station businesses. Thus, they must maintain systems for monitoring of groundwater (water table) since gas stations bury tanks and other equipments to stock raw materials and waste.

Another example of an activity that produces environmental liabilities is the operation of cemeteries. The natural process of decomposition of the materials used in the burial (coffin, flowers, and fabrics) and the bodies creates a by-product called necrochorume, which by its high organic loading can cause the contamination of groundwater. Prior to installation, cemeteries must obtain the proper environmental licensing and consider forms of treatment for necrochorume and tracking systems for the monitoring of its operation.

Another activity with the potential for environmental liabilities is the disposal of solid waste in nature - landfills. Projects are developed for their control and monitoring to avoid liability. The degradation of waste generates a natural watery mixture of insoluble matter, which if untreated, can contaminate the soil and groundwater. The city has to conduct daily investigations to locate areas, which have been the subject of improper disposal of solid waste, regardless of their size. Then, the city has to find the people responsible to clean the area or to correct the environmental damage itself.

The extraction of sand and clay for construction is also another source of environmental liability, especially when it is developed in alluvium plans nearby rivers.

Extraction of sand and clay is conducted in the wetlands of the river Iguaçu and generates significant negative impacts on the physical environment - soil, subsoil, water, landscape, and biodiversity - fauna and flora - that they far outweigh the positive social and economic effects of the activity to the city.

In 1998 the Municipal Department of the Environment (SMMA) was passed to control this activity, through the adoption of the Decree 556, which regulates the activity through environmental licensing and demands Environmental Recovery Plans to be presented to the city for areas of extraction.

The removal of soil, whether for mineral exploration or for the construction of a building, can create an environmental liability due to the withdrawal of layers of soil, removal of vegetation or disruption of archaeological sites.

Another example of an activity that can create environmental liability are Sewage Treatment Plants. The possibility of environmental liabilities is high for cases of operational accidents or excessive demand of sewage treatment services.

Environmental liabilities concerning water resources are closely related to sanitation networks. They include the direct release of sewage into rivers from Sewage Treatment Plants in areas where there is inadequate infrastructure and illegal sewage connections between unregulated properties and rivers or watersheds.

To minimize environmental liabilities, Municipal Bylaw 1153 was approved in 2004, making environmental licensing mandatory, which includes control and monitoring measures to all potentially polluting businesses. Through this bylaw, business activities that have caused environmental damages may only conclude their activity after repairing the damage caused.


2.1. Environmental Education

The recognition of the need for educational guidance, as a strategy for convincing the population to act as a partner of the City of Curitiba in the conservation of the environment, began in the 1970s with the first Afforestation Plan.

Earlier proposals focused on children, and the activities were mainly organized around the celebration of commemorative dates and the distribution of seeds and seedlings. For instance, in 1972, the city has organized a competition to reward the oldest, largest and most beautiful tree and the densest forest stand, at the Day of the Tree, which is celebrated in September 21st each year in Brazil. The owner of the winning tree or forest stand receives a diploma of protector and friend of nature.

In 1979, the Department of Parks and Squares and the Department of Environmental Preservation expanded their sphere of action and focused on community participation in environmental preservation. The work of the department, in particular of the Division of Zoo and Protection of Fauna, is centered on the organization of meetings, lectures and courses on conduct, habits and care of animals, and is open to the community. In 1986, the creation of the Municipal Secretariat of Environment has made this practice even more effective and organized. Environmental Education has becomes a division of the Department of Research and Monitoring of the Secretariat of Environment. Since then, environment educational programs are in place for the public, in several locations, given an increasing demand and growth of the city.

These initiatives from the city reveals the pioneering character of an understanding of environmental education as a strategy for the participation of the population in urban management, as advocated by the National Policy for the Environment, which was developed in 1981 and ratified by the Federal Constitution of 1988, in its chapter VI, section VI, Paragraph 1. This policy determines that it is the role of governments to promote environmental education, at all levels of schooling, and public awareness for the preservation of the environment.

Today, environment educational activities are organized according to the area of expertise: formal (in schools), community (organized segments of society), units of conservation (in parks and forests), research and development of educational materials (research, monitoring and preparation of information to support teaching).

The practice of environmental education, developed by Curitiba, is centered on the concept of the environmental space defined by the endless interaction and integration of natural and social elements. These natural, cultural, technological, historical and social interactions imply a process of continuous transformation.

Thus, based on the above concept, environmental education in Curitiba is developed continuously and permanently in a constant process. It offers individuals and the community a critical understanding of the environment, allowing conscious and participatory actions based on values, knowledge and skills, in order to build a sustainable society. It is worth noting that sustainable societies are those that define their own patterns of consumption and production as well as welfare from their culture, history and development of their natural environment (Chambers, 1986).

Environment Education Programmes and Projects currently developed by the City of Curitiba are:

2.1.1. Preserving springs. Objective - to locate water springs in Curitiba’s micro basins and to assess their environmental situation with the aim of preservation and revitalization. From 1998 to 2006, 182 springs were registered.

2.1.2. Adopt a tree. Objective – To involve the community in plantations, maintenance or recovery of riverbanks and other public areas; and to encourage the commitment of communities to the environment.

2.1.3. The garbage that is not garbage in condominiums. Objective – To inform residents and property caretakers of residential and commercial condominiums on the importance of the classifying garbage before its disposal.

2.1.4. Green trade. Objective – To inform the participants of the programme on the correct way of separating waste and proper disposal of them. The Green Trade programme, which started in 1991, is intended for families with an income of up to 03 minimum wages, encouraging them to pursue a selective collection of recyclable waste in exchange for fruits, vegetables and eggs.

2.1.5. Purchase of garbage. Objective – To inform the participants of the programme on the correct way to dispose of household waste to improve the quality of life in areas that are environmentally fragile. Since 1989, garbage is purchased in exchange for a basket of food. 8 to 10 kg garbage bags are deposited in large containers located in areas that are difficult to access by trucks.

After the exchange for food from both programmes above – the Green trade and the purchase of garbage - the collected recyclable waste goes to the Unit for the Promotion of Waste. The sale of the material is performed by the Office of Pro-Citizenship Curitiba, which is an entity linked to the city, and the profits are spent in social programs developed by the Foundation for Social Action.

2.1.6. Public Talks. Objective – To inform communities on programmes developed by the city in order to encourage participation as a partner of the municipal environmental management program.

2.1.7. Programme Eyes of Water. Objective – To promote Environmental Education through the monitoring of water quality of rivers in the city.

2.1.8. Interpretative Trail. Objective – To develop a sense of recognition and conservation of green areas in urban space.

2.1.9. Zoo. The Environmental Education Programme of the Zoo was established in 1991 with the following objectives:
  1. To use the zoo space didactically, transforming it into an open classroom;
  2. To inform visitors about fauna;
  3. To promote direct contact of visitor with some animals;
  4. To motivate interdisciplinary knowledge;
  5. To enhance civic and cultural behavior.

The following projects are currently being developed by the Zoo:

  • Educational Visits. Objective: To inform the public about the species living in the zoo, such as their geographical origin, their relation with the environment and the importance of protecting them.

  • Ecological Camp. Objective: To inform and sensitize children on the environmental issues regarding equilibrium and life on the planet;

  • Zoo Goes to School. Objective: to allow children to perceive themselves as participants, dependents and driving agents in the process of transformation of the environment, identifying its entirety and interactions between them.

  • Environmental Workshop. Objective: To learn the characteristics of exotic, native and wild animals, as well, some domestic animals through playful activities.

  • Theatre in School. Objective: To inform on illegal trafficking and mistreatment of wild animals, and the conservation of species.

  • Zoo therapy. Objective: To give the opportunity to children and adult people with special needs to go to the zoo. People suffering from physical or mental disabilities, or those that have remained in lengthy hospitalizations are given some moments of distraction and information by being allowed to touch domestic and wild animals.

2.1.10. Botanical Garden Maria Francisca Garfunkel Rischbieter. Created in 1991, the Botanical Garden initiated an Environmental Education Program through guided visits to school children in 1992. From 1992-1995 the students received information on the history of the collection in an unstructured format and visitors were expected to follow scheduled appointments. With the introduction of a working group of environmental educators, the botanical garden expanded and systematized its services, and is currently developing the following projects:

  • Courses for teachers on science and biology. Objective: To empower biology and science teachers for the development of interdisciplinary recreational activities in environmental education, and extra curricular activities in the city’s green areas.

  • Loan of botanical material. Objective: To make available the botanical collection in the form of exsiccates (plants dehydrated, videos, among others) to schools from elementary to university and above, for the enrichment of teaching practice in the classroom

  • Trail in the Araucaria Forest. Objective: To promote the knowledge of the most common species of flora and fauna of the Araucaria Forest and to sensitize the population with respect to deforestation and pollution. This program aims to promote observation of nature using the full potential of humans’ five senses.

  • The Museum and Botanical Garden Guided Visits. Objective: To provide for permanent access of the population to information from various environmental issues, such as indigenous vegetation, environmental laws, endangered species, among others, in the form of exhibitions.

  • Permanent Exhibition of Environmental Education. Objective: To provide information about the institution and its importance to the conservation of fauna and flora, in addition to information on the species of its botanical collection for students of primary school.

  • Feeling and Perceiving the Environment. Objective: to allow seniors to relax and think about the environment as experienced in past, present and future generations, while addressing changes in relation to consumer goods and changes in the environment in recent decades.

  • Learning with Leaves. Objective: to provide students greater knowledge of the macro-anatomy of the leaves of indigenous as well as introduced fruit trees, and for the general understanding of environmental conservation.

  • Fairy Nature. Objective: To give the opportunity to kindergarten, 1st grade students, and children with special educational needs to appreciate nature and to develop ecological awareness through recreational activities with information on the Araucaria Forest.

2.2. Solid Waste

The continuing population growth and the patterns of consumption prevalent in today society result in an increase in the production of food and consumer goods. Thus, most raw materials are processed into finished products, generating larger quantities of waste. It is the mandate of the City of Curitiba to establish guidelines and implement measures for the management of these wastes, aiming the conservation of the environment. However, given the intense process of urbanization of the municipalities of the metropolitan region of Curitiba – RMC - the management of solid waste is now being discussed within the region in order to develop integrated policies for the resolution of the problem. Through differentiated programmes and projects, Curitiba has minimized the impacts resulting from this increase in the volume of waste over the years. Due to different management strategies adopted by the city, the characteristics of the various kinds of waste or the uniqueness of the generating activities, the city classifies its solid waste into the six classes of waste:

The management of solid organic waste in the city of Curitiba is serviced through a contract currently held by Cavo Services and Environment SA. Through this contract, the company is responsible, among other services, for collecting organic waste door-to-door. They now collect from 99.7% of households of Curitiba, according to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

In 2004, the Municipal Secretariat of the Environment established through the Municipal Decree 983 that a maximum volume of 600 liters per week was to be collected per household. Those who cannot are required to submit their plans establishing criteria for sorting, packaging, transportation and final destination of the waste to the Municipal Secretariat of the Environment Management.

On October 13, 1989, the collection of recyclable waste was established in the city of Curitiba and is called "The garbage that is not garbage programme". For example, the collection of household organic waste and the collection of recyclable waste is also carried out door-to-door by the Cavo Services and Environment SA, which holds the contract to provide services up to 2009. The collection, which covers 99.7% of households, complies with a specific plan establishing the collection of 108 sectors, in which the frequency of collection varies from one to three times a week, and is made both during the day and early night as follows: 22 sectors with collection three times a week; 46 sectors with collection twice a week; 40 sectors with collection once a week.

The Green Trade Program was established in 1991 and is the exchange of recyclable waste products for fruits, vegetables and eggs. Currently there are 78 points of exchange, from which 7,000 people benefit from approximately 44 tones of food monthly.

In mid-2005, with the imminent saturation of its Vegetable Waste landfill, the Curitiba’s Secretariat of the Environment started procedures for outsourcing the final destination of the material. Thus, in early 2006 the company RECICLOM, winner of the leasing tender process, started to receive and process (grinding) vegetable waste collected in the city. The system of collection of the city, drawn up from the demands of the population, had its fleet of trucks increased in early 2006 in order to meet the intense demand. Meanwhile efficiency has not yet reached the desired level on account of the large volume of waste ready for collection without request.

The collection of waste from hospitals was implemented in the municipality of Curitiba on December 1, 1988 simultaneously with the opening of a septic landfill, specifically intended for medical waste. In 1994, it became clear the need to reduce the volume of waste placed in the septic landfill and ensure better control of pollution, thus, infectious waste is now undergoing a process of incineration.

Regular construction waste in Curitiba is disposed in licensed landfills. In addition to these landfills, different alternatives are being put in practice gradually. Since the beginning of 2006, a quarry in activity in the neighboring city of Sao Jose dos Pinhais is licensed for receiving the construction waste with the objective of future recycling. In addition to this quarry, four others are in the process of licensing or in the course of a feasibility study. In 2007, the first recycling plant for construction waste was operating in the neighboring city of Colombo.

However, a portion of the waste from construction is being deposited in inappropriate manner in rivers, valleys, forests and illegal landfills. The Municipal Secretariat of the Environment, in addition to attending complaints relating to these irregularities, conducts operations in partnership with the Municipal Secretariat of Urban Planning (SMU), the Board of Transit (DIRETRAN) and the Transit Police Battalion (BPTRAN), to correct the irregular disposal of construction waste.

The Municipal Secretariat of the Environment, in partnership with Municipal Secretariat of Public Works, which is the main producer of construction waste (from building, paving and sanitation) is studying tools to promote the implementation of new technologies for recycling in the municipality, which can meet the existing supply of construction waste.

On September 21, 1998, the Special Household Waste Collection Programme (Toxic Waste) was created. Through this program, batteries, toners, paints, packs of insecticides, medicines and fluorescent lamps are collected. Maximum quantities are specified by the Department of Public Hygiene (MALP).

Due to the high cost of treatment of this type of waste, the program still has a limited range and is difficult to access by most of the population. The continued growth of the volume collected, however, shows a growing awareness of the population and the possibility of implementing a program with greater reach.

This year, the program was expanded with the inclusion of the collection of oils for cooking - residue which was irregularly disposed into the sewage system of the city. The collected waste is sent for recycling, where it is processed into soap, detergent and raw materials for the manufacture of other products.

Similarly, the producers of hazardous waste, not included in the Special Household Waste Collection Programme, seek alternatives to the correct disposal of such waste. With the exception of the Centers for Treatment of Industrial Waste (CTRIs), these producers have the alternative of processing these wastes in cement kilns.

2.3. Urban Noise

Although Curitiba’s police on urban noise are mainly focused on the human well being and quality of life of the urban area, it also recognizes that other life forms are disturbed by it.

The City of Curitiba, through the Municipal Secretariat of the Environment has the mandate to monitor urban noise, either through environmental licensing of potentially polluting activities, which are defined in the regulation itself, or through the supervision of the disturbing activities, which are reported by the population. When the laws are not respected, there are administrative sanctions, such as notifications, fines, closing of disturbing activities, denial of environmental licensing, ending of licensing of operation, among other penalties specified in the environmental laws.

Once an environmental violation has occurred, the person responsible must solve this problem while controlling noise pollution, which is often done by the minimization of noise at source, i.e. controlling the cause of the problem and reducing the discomfort of the population. Another solution is the minimization of noise nuisance individually, or the control of the target of pollution: residents, workers, (the latter being which the most widely used in businesses) when there is no the possibility of reducing the noise by enclosure or confinement of acoustic noise source.

2.4 Protected Areas

Protected areas are the most important strategy for the conservation of biodiversity, whether ecosystems, species, genes or human cultural diversity.

Since the 1970s, when the guidelines of the urban planning of Curitiba was under consolidation, strategic actions were performed for the conservation of the environment in order to ensure the improvement of the quality of life of the population, while respecting the limits of nature itself.

Since then, the policy of implementation of Units of Conservation has been defined, where the potential use of the urban landscape for recreation and contemplation was linked to (1) the maintenance and conservation of green areas and watersheds, (2) the protection of the natural drainage system, (3) the control of floods, (4) the need to preserve water resources and fauna, (5) the implementation of environmental legislation, among many other factors.

The Municipal Secretariat of the Environment sees the need to consolidate the policy of co-participation of society organizations in the management and maintenance of units of conservation. Thus, the municipal government created the Programme of Adoption of Public Areas, supported in Law 11.642/05 and Decree 793/06, where business and neighborhood associations can apply for the full adoption of a square or another area of recreation, which allows for the maintenance of landscape, equipment and other urban elements, in exchange for advertising.

Curitiba’s protected areas are classified according to three definitions:

Areas of Environmental Protection (APAs) are defined under the group of Units of Sustainable Use according to the Federal Law 9985/2000. They are generally extensive areas, with a certain degree of human occupation, endowed with abiotic, biotic, aesthetic, or cultural attributes that are important for human well-being. The objectives of APAs are (1) to protect the biological diversity, (2) to correct processes of land occupation, and (3) to ensure sustainable use of natural resources. APAs are made on public or private land. Curitiba has two Areas of Environmental Protection: the Iguacu APA, and the Passauna APA.

According to the Federal Law 9985/00 establishing the National System of Units of Conservation, Ecological Stations aim to conserve nature and carry out scientific research in areas belonging to the public domain, and in areas where public visits are prohibited, except when the objective is educational, in accordance with the management plans of the ecological stations.

During the 1970s, the demand for recreational areas grew parallel to Curitiba’s population growth due to migration from other areas of the country.

According to the principles of urban planning, there is a need for development, preservation and care for natural spaces, as they are beneficial to the physical and mental health of inhabitants. The integration of squares, parks and other recreational areas into urban space softens the landscape and provides space for leisure and contemplation.

In addition, recreational areas are also intended to improve the urban environment, promoting ventilation and aeration of neighborhoods, solar insolation of buildings and soil drainage.

Evidence of disregard of intrinsic values for open urban areas can be seen in the suppression and reduction of natural areas or occupation by inadequate buildings.

The parks, woods and other open areas are the places where public life and friendships developed, while enjoying the pleasures of being outdoors.

Typically these units are used constantly and spontaneously, but many activities can be held and organized by public and private entities in order to provide entertainment and cultural life to the community. Annually, the Management of Parks and Woods issues on average 400 permits for the use of the sites.

Thus, Curitiba’s recreational areas act as meeting areas for the integration of diverse forms of mobility and accessibility. The network of bike paths connects with the Network of Biodiversity, by the banks of rivers, also linking their forests and parks. Accessibility for the entire population becomes more comprehensive and effective.

At the moment, Curitiba’s Recreational Areas counts a total of 22.724.525 m2 from which 18.481.316 m2 are parks, 650.401 m2 are woods, and 3.592.808 m2 are squares and other recreational areas.

2.5. Heritage

Curitiba’s Plan for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development considers the environment in its entirety and human impacts on nature. Thus, it reflects considerations on both the natural environment, which is composed of elements that are independent of human action, and the cultural environment, which is a consequence of human activity. Curitiba’s environmental vision emphasizes physical and biological aspects of nature as well as cultural aspects, covering characteristics of every social group. Thus, cultural plurality is a heritage as rich as the genetic diversity, and its recognition is highly related to the protection of animal and plant species.

Curitiba’s plan for the protection and sustainable use of environmental heritage is structured as follows:

1) Natural Environment Heritage

2) Cultural Environment Heritage:
2.a) Intangible Cultural Heritage (knowledge or know-how, celebrations, forms of expression, places)
2.b) Tangible Cultural Heritage (urban sites, archaeological and natural sites, parks, buildings and other singular sites)

2.6. Environmental Information Systems

Today, geo-processing has become indispensable tool for actions and projects on the environment. By establishing a geo-processing centre, the city seeks integration and availability of environmental information for the six divisions that make up the Municipal Department of Environment. The implementation of the centre will increase speed and reliability for production, processing and updating of environmental information of the Municipal Department of Environment.

2.7. Legislation

All laws can be found in full in the official website of the City of Curitiba:, within the area of the Municipal Secretariat of the Environment, under the topic “legislação SMMA.”

The most relevant titles are the Act 7833 of December 19th, 1991 on "The policy of protection, conservation and restoration of the environment and other measures", which sets the mandate of Municipal Secretariat of the Environment, and the Act 9806 of January 3rd, 2000 on "The establishment of the Code of Forest of the City of Curitiba and other measures", which consolidates and updates the historic process of the municipality in relation to the management of urban green areas.


BioCity Programme: the groundbreaking US$ 175 million "BioCity" program, launched by the City of Curitiba, constitutes a concrete example of urban planning that takes into consideration biodiversity-related issues. BioCity is composed of five main projects related to: (1) ornamental indigenous plant species, aiming to promote knwledge and familiarity with the region's indigenous flora through the reintroduction of ornamental species within the city; (2) conservation units, with the active participation of civil society; (3) preservation of water resources, through the Strategic Plan for Revitalizing the Barigui River Basin; (4) street tree lining, which facilitates planting of indigenous species along Curitiba streets; and (5) air quality/mobility and transportation, through the Green Line Project which aims to revitalize an important federal highway and create a major transportation corridor with special lanes for bicycles and pedestrians as well as a linear park.

On July 04th, 2008, as part of the BioCity programme, Curitiba City Government delivered the first vertical garden of ornamental native plants of the city. For more info and photos click here.



Integrating biodiversity into urban planning


  • Forest Biodiversity
  • Inland Waters Biodiversity
  • Mountain Biodiversity


  • 2010 Biodiversity Target
  • Impact Assessment
  • Protected Areas
  • Public Education and Awareness


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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme