Veríssimo, A., Rolla, A., Vedoveto, M., & Futada, S. de M. 2011. Protected Areas in the Brazilian Amazon: Challenges & Opportunities (p. 96). Belém: Imazon.
Protected Areas are effective instruments for safeguarding the integrity of ecosystems, biodiversity, and the associated environmental services, such as soil conservation and watershed protection, pollination, nutrient recycling, and climate regulation. Moreover, Protected Areas ensure the right of permanence and the culture of traditional populations and indigenous peoples previously existing there.
In December 2010, the Protected Areas in the Brazilian Amazon covered about 2,197,485 km2 or 43.9% of the region, or 25.8% of Brazilian territory. Of this Conservation Units account for about 22.2% of Amazon territory while the approved, declared, and identified Indigenous Lands covered 21.7%.
Conservation Units can be classified according to their federation status (federal, state, or municipal) and with regards to the degree of permitted intervention (Full Protection or Sustainable Use). By 2010, the federal Conservation Units totaled 610,510 km2, while the state areas occupied 563,748 km2. With regards to the level of intervention the Sustainable Use Conservation Units – where economic activities under the management regime and resident communities are permitted – corresponded to 62.2% of the areas occupied by Conservation Units (federal and state), while those under Full Protection totaled 37.8%.
The creation of Conservation Units occurred most intensely from 2003 to 2006, when 487,118 km2 of these areas were established. In the case of the Indigenous Lands, there were two periods with greater approval statistics: 1990 to1994, with 85 new units covering 316,186 km2, and 1995/1998, also with 85 new units, which totaled 314,061 km2.
Despite notable advances in the creation of Protected Areas, there are still many challenges for guaranteeing their consolidation and effective socioenvironmental protection. In the case of the Conservation Units, half do not possess approved management plans and 45% do not have a management council. Moreover the number of public staff in these Protected Areas is only 1 person for every 1,872 km2.
Protected Areas are not immune to economic pressure. From 1998 to 2009 the deforestation in these areas reached 12,204 km2. In the Sustainable Use Conservation Units (excluding the APAs), the percentage of deforested territory came to 3.7% while in the Full Protection Conservation Units this proportion was lower (2.1%). In the Indigenous Lands deforestation affected 1.5% of their total areas. Moreover, a vast network of illegal roads is advancing into some Protected Areas, particularly in the Sustainable Use Conservation Units, where there are 17.7 km of roads for every 1,000 km2 under protection. A large portion of these roads is associated with illegal logging .
For the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment (Imazon) and the Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA), the consolidation of the protected areas should occur by means of the following priority actions:
Curbing irregular uses and occupations, as well as deforestation and forest degradation;
Amplifying the sources of financing and assuring mechanisms for the effective transfer of financial resources (e.g. the National Fund for Environmental Compensation).
Guaranteeing legal protection;
Enhancing public management, allocating more qualified personnel to the field , elaborating the pertinent management instruments and undertaking their implementation in a participatory manner;
Amplifying and strengthening management councils in the Conservation Units and guaranteeing the participation of the population in the Indigenous Lands;
Assuming the challenge of consolidating land management plans for the protected areas, which also should include an environmental agenda for Indigenous Lands
Concluding the process for recognizing Indigenous Lands.
This report summarizes the status of the Protected Areas in the Brazilian Amazon including indicators of size and data related to the creation of Conservation Units and Indigenous Lands, management status and threats to which they are submitted. In addition, our objective is also to highlight the importance of ensuring the integrity of the Protected Areas, in such a way as to preserve their ecosystems, biodiversity and the environmental services.