Partnership guarantees revitalization of Pedra Branca State Park in Rio de Janeiro



Posted on 24 August 2001  | 
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Brown capuchins (Cebus apella), peccaries (Tayassu pecari), Collared anteaters (Tamandua tetradactyla), Channel-billed Toucans (Ramphastos vitellinus) and even sloths! These are some of the animals that live in a forest filled with jequitiba (Cariniana ianeirensis), pau-d'alho (Gallesia gorarema) and palm trees. These species, almost all of which are endangered, are closer to the city of Rio de Janeiro than one would initially think. Their habitat is the Pedra Branca State Park, with its approximately 6.000 hectares, one of the largest urban forests in the world.

To guarantee the preservation of the park, an agreement between the Rio de Janeiro State government and Enron/Rio de Janeiro Energy Society will provide 4.1 million Brazilian reais (approximately US$1.6 million) for revitalization works, including the recovery and conservation of degraded areas. WWF-Brazil and the Roberto Marinho Foundation will be responsible for managing the works identified in the project.

The main challenge for the project is to place the Pedra Branca Park among the list of great natural attractions in the state, making it an ecotourism destination in Rio de Janeiro. However, the most important fact about the agreement is that it is an unprecedented initiative of joint management, made possible thanks to the enforcement of the Conservation Units National System (SNUC) law. Enron will open the first thermoelectric power plant mainly for the energy wholesale market and, in return, will donate one per cent of the profits of this venture for the conservation of the park. "It is a creative way to help the actual implementation of Brazilian Conservation Units", says Dr. Garo Batmanian, chief executive of WWF-Brazil.

The proposal is to develop a management plan to increase the value of the main attraction points of the park. The agreement also foresees the development of projects to encourage the participation of the local community in rescuing the environmental and cultural values of the region, while allowing for the sustainability of the park.

Infrastructure works and physical improvements, such as the construction of a path above the trees, an interactive visitors' centre, with exhibitions on local fauna and flora, and an amphitheatre. Activities such as patrolling the park, preventing fires and safety measures are also foreseen in the project plan, as are the construction of well equipped and sign posted pathways, that will benefit all the tourists that visit the park.

Located in the Rio de Janeiro municipality, the State Park covers the slopes of the Pedra Branca massif, extending over 12,500 hectares. The Pedra Branca Peak, which is in the park, at 1,024 meters altitude, is the highest point in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

The park was created in 1974, but its actual implementation has not yet taken place - which has contributed to the degradation of the area. Like the Tijuca massif, the history of forest protection in Pedra Branca has always been associated with preserving its hydro potential. It is still possible to find rare and endangered species in the remaining forest areas. Among the trees introduced by men in the region, like coffee, jackfruit and mango trees, there are several species of hardwood trees.

The local fauna is also spectacular: capuchins, peccaries, collared anteaters and sloths, among others, are found in the park. Not to mention the 180 bird species that inhabit the region, like the channel-billed toucan, the aracari and guans.

For more information:
Ana Claudia Barbosa Communications Officer - WWF Brazil Fax +61 364 7474

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