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Brazil is a country of superlatives. 20 per cent of the planet’s fresh water. One third of all species. The largest wetlands on Earth. Five different terrestrial biomes, from open fields, wetlands, dry woodlands, savannas, to the outstanding Amazon and Atlantic rain forests. 3.5 million km2 of marine areas.
Sadly, the conservation challenges are also superlatives. Nearly 200 million people live in Brazil, most of them in big cities along the Atlantic coast. This has caused high rates of habitat loss – less than 7 per cent of the coastal rain forest remains.
The Brazilian savanna vegetation, the cerrado, is likely to disappear completely by 2030, giving way to soya farms, cattle ranching and sugar cane plantations for ethanol. Deforestation and fires in the Amazon forest account for 75 per cent of Brazil’s carbon emissions.
Yet Brazil has one of the best environmental legislation frameworks. A versatile system of protected areas provides a spectrum of conservation options from full protection to sustainable use managed by indigenous communities.
Though the number of private protected areas is increasing, the majority of the protected areas are still paper parks. Less than 9 per cent of the country is protected. Emerging mechanisms to protect ecosystem services, such as freshwater provisioning, represent a major opportunity to conserve Brazil’s stunning landscapes.
Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is working through partnerships with national institutions, government and the private sector to fill key conservation gaps in the Amazon rainforest.
The Brazilian business sector is beginning to embrace corporate social responsibility and a major component of our work in Brazil is to engage with companies to help them manage their dependencies and impacts on the environment. FFI is working in partnership with a range of companies in Brazil to help them improve their policies and implementation of best practices relating to biodiversity. We are also building the capacity of local NGOs to engage with businesses and monitor the impact of these partnerships on the conservation of biodiversity.
Despite the global importance of the Brazilian Amazon and the official Brazilian government strategy to protect it, the world’s largest forest is threatened by cattle ranching, illegal logging, new access roads and agriculture. Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has been working to curb the advance of deforestation by supporting the Cristalino Ecological Foundation (CEF) and other partners to protect 6,000 hectares of private reserves adjacent to the Cristalino State Park which are critical to maintaining its integrity.
External link: Cristalino Ecological Foundation