Brazil protects millions of hectares of Amazon
The decision to protect 3.7 million hectares in the Terra do Meio Ecological Station (3.3 million ha) and the Serra do Pardo National Park (445,000 ha) was made in an effort to fight deforestation and land conflicts in the Brazilian State of Para.
"Conservation in the Amazon takes a giant step forward with this decree," said Carter Roberts, Chief Conservation Officer with WWF-US. "With these two critical pieces in place, we are creating a mosaic of contiguous protected areas, reserves, and indigenous territories connecting the savanna ecosystem of the south to the rain forests of the central Amazon."
The two new parks, totaling an area nearly twice the size of the US State of Massachusetts, are both located in the State of Para, the region where Sister Dorothy Stang, an American nun, was murdered 12 February because of her outspoken efforts on behalf of landless peasants and wildlife in the Amazon.
"Strict protection should help put the brakes on runaway deforestation and land tenure conflicts in which Sister Dorothy was such a courageous advocate, both for the poor and for conservation," added Roberts. "We congratulate President Lula for his leadership in moving this forward."
Social and environmental organizations, including WWF, have been pressing for the creation of these new protected areas in the Terra do Meio region for several years as a way of easing conflicts over logging and land use, protecting the rights of local residents and conserving the irreplaceable biodiversity of the Xingu river basin.
The creation of the mosaic establishes an ecological corridor of 25 million hectares in the Xingu river basin, connecting the Cerrado Savanna and Amazon Forest ecosystems through parks, reserves and indigenous land.
"Creating these protected areas is a vital measure to stop deforestation and pacify land conflicts in the region," said Rosa Lemos de Sá, WWF-Brazil's Conservation Director.
"A corridor this size will guarantee the maintenance of long-term ecological processes, as well as the basis needed for the maintenance of evolutionary processes of species in the Xingu river basin."
Threatened species include jaguars, macaws, and harpy eagles, animals that all require large areas of rainforest for their survival.
• WWF assisted the parks' creation by providing scientific and technical advice in their design and by supporting stakeholder consultations to ensure that the rights and needs of local inhabitants were incorporated into conservation planning.
• The Terra do Meio Ecological Station and the Serra do Pardo National Park will benefit from the Amazon Protected Areas Programme (ARPA), whose main goal is to establish a network of protected areas to help protect a significant sample of biological diversity in the Amazon biome.
• During Phase I (2003-2006), ARPA has a goal of creating 9 million hectares of total protection conservation units to secure protection of biodiversity. With the creation of the Terra do Meio Ecological Station and the Serra do Pardo National Park, ARPA has reached 8.5 million hectares of total protection conservation units, almost the total figure projected as its objective.
• In addition to this, the programme also aims at this stage to create another 9 million hectares of sustainable use conservation units, as is the case with extractive reserves, which allow for the economic use of natural resources as long as adequate management plans are presented. With the Riozinho da Liberdade Extractive Reserve, the government has already created 5.4 million hectares of units in this category integrated to ARPA.
• The programme also plans to consolidate, by 2006, 7 million hectares of protected areas which existed previously. Coordinated by the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment and the Brazilian Institute for the Environment, the programme is implemented in partnership with State governments, the Brazilian Fund for Biodiversity (Funbio), World Bank, German Development Banks, and WWF-Brazil.
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