Early this year, implementation began for an integrated project dealing with climate, biodiversity and disaster risk reduction in the Atlantic Forest of southeastern Brazil.
The project, entitled Recovery and Protection of Climate and Biodiversity Services in Brazil’s Southeast Atlantic Forest Corridor, consists of a US$31 million grant from the GEF, which leveraged US$207 million in additional resources. The states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro will all benefit from the project, as well as the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. The GEF’s implementing partner is the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
“We are at the beginning of implementation of a quite significant GEF integrated project,” said Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Director of Programs. “In collaboration with climate policy experts of the Brazilian government, this project will improve ecosystem resilience and build conservation capacity in one of Brazil’s most biologically diverse yet threatened biomes.”
The Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlântica in Portuguese) is a region of tropical and subtropical moist forests, tropical dry forests, tropical savannas, and mangrove forests that extend along the Atlantic Ocean coast of Brazil from the States of Rio Grande do Norte to Rio Grande do Sul. In northeastern Brazil, the Atlantic Forest occupies a thin coastal strip less than 40 miles wide, while in the southeast it extends as far as 200 miles inland.
Although covering a small fraction of its original area, what remains of the Atlantic Forest is among the most biologically rich and diverse forests in the world. It has been identified as one of the 25 global hotspots for biodiversity, hosting more than 20,000 plants species (almost 50% of which are endemic), 130 species of mammals (51 of which are endemic), and a staggering 183 species of amphibians unique to the biome. Many of these endemic organisms survive in remnant patches of forest, isolated as a result of centuries of deforestation for agriculture and urban growth.
The project kicked off in January 2016 with the signing of a cooperation agreement with the state of São Paulo for the recovery and protection of biodiversity and climate services in priority areas of the southeast corridor of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Activities in Sao Paulo, aligned with state priorities, include water conservation in areas of supply sources, mitigation and adaptation to climate change activities, and biodiversity conservation.
"The Serra do Mar Social and Environmental Rehabilitation program being implemented in the State of Sao Paulo is perhaps the most successful and innovating attempt at bridging the distance between social and environmental concerns that affect extremely valuable and fragile ecosystems such as the Atlantic Forest,” said Helena de Piagessi, Lead Specialist on Natural Resources, from the IDB. “The implementation of this project signals a significant step in the path towards providing coherent, comprehensive, ecosystem-wide protection for environmental services derived from Brazil’s Atlantic Forest.”
A component of the project to increase carbon stocks in the Paraíba do Sul river basin includes payment for ecosystem services schemes to encourage the conservation of vegetation and the conversion of degraded pastures and native production forests. Another component will be to increase the effectiveness and financial sustainability of protected areas along the Serra do Mar corridor and the promotion of sustainable economic activity in intermediary zones. The project also includes research initiatives and capacity building for management, and monitoring of carbon stocks and biodiversity in the form of projects and research grants.
The project goals include supporting the conservation and restoration of 15,500 hectares; supporting the conversion of 1,300 hectares of degraded pasture; supporting the improvement of production on 18,000 hectares in buffer zones and protected areas; and improve the management of three conservation units located along the northern stretches of the Serra do Mar Corridor, all while benefitting over 3,400 farmers in the region.
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The State of São Paulo signs international agreement to restore the Atlantic Forest (Portuguese)