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IYF 2011: The ARPA Project: Growing Tropical Forest Conservation

March 14 - The Amazon represents the largest area of tropical rainforest in the world. It provides essential global environmental benefits in terms of preservation of significant levels of unique biological diversity and carbon sequestration through averted deforestation, which results in mitigation of climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has reported however, that between 1990 and 2005, all Amazon countries combined accounted for approximately 26%, or 3.7 million hectares, of global deforestation. Despite the serious losses it has sustained, vast expanses of the Amazon nevertheless remain intact, presenting a valuable window of opportunity to safeguard what remains.

Brazil, the largest of the Amazon countries, ranks among the world’s top greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters when emissions from deforestation are taken into account. The Amazon rainforest occupies 4.1 million sq km, or half, of Brazil’s territory. In order to maximize the potential offered by the Amazon’s valuable assets, the Government of Brazil launched, in 2002, the world’s largest tropical forest conservation program, the Amazon Region Protected Areas Project (ARPA), based on the recognition that protected areas (PAs) are essential for preventing biodiversity loss, combating deforestation and preserving the benefits of carbon sequestration, and ensuring the preservation of indigenous and traditional communities’ lands and livelihoods.

The ARPA Project is designed to be carried out in three phases. Its long-term target is to set aside 500 thousand sq. km, or 50 million hectares, of protected areas that will include samples of all 23 Amazonian eco-regions, and to catalyze coordination, management, and monitoring systems for these protected areas that will be sustainable over the long term. In its first phase, which closed in 2008, the project benefited from a $30 million GEF grant, implemented by the World Bank, with over US $50 million in co-financing provided by German bilateral agency Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Government of Brazil and other donors. ARPA’s success to date has been significant:

  • 24 million hectares have been designated new protected areas, of which 13 million ha of ‘strict protection’ PAs and 11 million ha in ‘sustainable use’ PAs.
  • ‘Consolidated’, or established, management and enforcement systems have been put in place for over 8 million hectares of the new PAs.
  • The creation of 13 PAs during ARPA’s first phase are predicted to offset emissions equivalent to an estimated 0.43 billion tons of carbon by 2050.
  • Driving innovation through the establishment of a Fiduciary Fund, the Protected Areas Trust Fund (Fundo das Áreas Protegidas, FAP), managed by the Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (FUNBIO). FAP income will cover the recurrent costs of the PAs, including the future maintenance of parks and reserves.
  • Successful engagement of 5 state governments - Mato Grosso, Acre, Tocantins, Rondônia and Amazonas - in creating and managing their state PAs and strengthening their state environmental infrastructure. A number of other states worked with the federal government to create new federal protected areas and sustainable use PAs. ARPA’s efforts to increase and institutionalize support for conservation goals within the state governance mandates has made an important contribution to enhancing capacity in the Amazonian states.
  • Overall, tackling daunting concerns in ecosystem protection today including: enforcement of environmental laws in remote areas; effectively addressing the needs and aspirations of rural people for improved livelihoods; and, valuing and funding conservation activities against the wider backdrop of ongoing resource exploitation.


In cooperation with Phase I co-financing partners, the World Bank is supporting ARPA’s second phase (2010-2014) through a GEF grant of US $15.9 million to FUNBIO. The goal under Phase II is to create an additional 13.5 million hectares of PAs and consolidate an additional 32 million hectares of tropical rainforest. Payments for carbon offsetting in PAs through REDD will be directed to state governments and/or to communities in these areas.


Summary and Documents: GEF PMIS #4085

As part of the GEF's support to the International Year of Forest, every month we are publishing a story about a successful GEF project that is promoting sustainable forest management, and having positive impacts on forests, climate, biodiversity and local livelihoods.