Gains in nature conservation based on compensatory reforestation in the Atlantic Forest, Brazil.

Published online
25 Jan 2017
Content type
Bulletin article

Pinto, M. B. & Bussmann, D. B. G. & Oliveira, A. X. de & Luiz, R. G.
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The Atlantic Forest biome is considered a world biodiversity hotspot that originally covered 15% of the territory of Brazil, or 1,306,421 km2. Spread out along the Atlantic coast of Brazil, it includes a wide range of ecosystems, such as mangroves, restinga vegetation, lowland and upland forests, Araucaria forest and campos de altitude (Brazilian highaltitude grasslands). Currently, the Atlantic Forest has been reduced to a mere 7.84% of its original size and now covers some 102,000 km2. Studies indicate deforestation amounting 18,433 hectares (184 km2) of the remaining forest in the period 2014-2015. Due to the high fragmentation of forests, restoration projects are important and may incorporate actions that benefit the conservation of the biome. Infrastructure projects, such as the construction or expansion of highways, can bring significant impacts to biodiversity, such as through the removal of native vegetation. To make up for such impacts, Brazilian environmental agencies follow the rule of demanding offset measures. Such measures result, for the most part, in the planting of trees in an amount arrived at by multiplying the number of organisms lost. When companies are involved in activities that benefit biodiversity conservation, its offset measures required by environmental agencies could be targeted at more consistent outcomes in favour of the natural heritage, such as environmental restoration and synergies with the management of protected areas. Against this background, a partnership was established between a company in the infrastructure sector and an institution working for nature conservation. The aim was to direct offset measures for restoration of endangered ecosystems in protected areas of the Atlantic Forest. In addition to the environmental outcomes, this initiative is a model for future activities involving environmental offset measures in Brazil.

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