The Integrated Effort of the
Brazilian Government Towards Areas under Federal, State and Private Protection
(Excerpts from the full paper presented in the "uncorrected, advance proof" of The
Pantanal of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, Hudson MacArthur Publishers,
copyright 2000 by Waterland Research Institute.)
The federally protected area in the Brazilian
Pantanal is limited to the Pantanal National Park -- "Parque Nacional
do Pantanal Matogrossense"-- and the small Taiamã Ecological
Station. Both areas are located along the Paraguay River. Pantanal National
Park (approximately 140,000 hectares) is an area where floodplain waters
return to the main channels of the Paraguay and Cuiabá/São
Lourenço rivers. Taiamã Ecological Station (11,200 hectares)
is located along the Paraguay River in the northern Pantanal. Both of these
protected areas are supervised by the federal agency, IBAMA.
With an area of about 1,400 km2, Pantanal
National Park occupies only about one percent of the Brazilian Pantanal.
In terms of preservation of the Pantanal’s biodiversity, this small national
park is relatively insignificant. Furthermore, the value of both of the
above-mentioned reserves as refuges for terrestrial animals has been questioned
since these lands are nearly completely inundated during periods of high
water. It is thus necessary to have additional government strategies for
the conservation of the Pantanal -- strategies involving private efforts
toward preservation. Furthermore, conservation efforts depend upon the
development of integrated actions and extensive cooperation between governments
and society in general. For example, one cannot separate the Pantanal of
Brazil from that of Bolivia and Paraguay; cooperation among these nations
is of utmost importance.
Pantanal National Park was created via government
land purchases. However, it is an area with significant flooding, and regrettably
it represents only a limited portion of the Pantanal and its diverse landscapes.
From a conservation standpoint, therefore, it is quite significant that
Ecotrópica has gained ownership of lands around the National Park,
thereby complementing this park in its preservation efforts. In fact, the
Ecotrópica areas also represent diverse landscapes not represented
in the park itself.
When on refers to the Pantanal, we are of course
addressing areas that are permanently flooded, as well as areas that are
flooded seasonally, rivers, and so forth. The water cycle of the Pantanal
is critically important. In this part of the world, one does not talk about
winter, summer, spring or fall. One talks of the dry season and the rainy
season, with the rainy season occurring from about October to April, and
the dry season from May or April to October. During the dry season, the
rivers remain in their channels, and terrestrial animals can be found on
the river margins. When the rainy season commences, the rivers flood, completing
a cyclical water cycle that gives the region its unique character. Should
this cycle be altered, the Pantanal as we know it would be lost.
For example, in the Manso River, a very important
tributary of the Cuiabá River, a dam-type power plant is being constructed
. Constructing such a dam could impact the water cycle, as well as the
chemical composition of those waters. Associated with this power plant
will be a large reservoir of nearly 40,000 hectares on the upstream side
of the plant. It is notable that this river provides an estimated 60% of
the water that flows into the Cuiabá River. Thus, the impact of
this power plant can be substantial, affecting plants, fish, and so forth.
The Pantanal’s characteristic flood-and-drought
cycle is particularly critical to many fish species, whose migration habits
are tied to these changes. When there is flooding, the fish move laterally
into the flooded areas. At that time there is abundant food, and it is
a common time for breeding. When there is drought, the fish return to the
riverbed. Furthermore, 80% of the fish in the Pantanal migrate, so changes
in the water cycle can be most critical.
The Pantanal is not a homogeneous environment.
There are many diverse ecoregions that can be found there. For this reason,
preservation efforts require the broad protection of different areas. Given
the limited federal and state government area protected, it is necessary
to have areas of private protection as well.
We can refer to areas under government protection
by the terms “direct units” and “indirect units”of conservation. Indirect-use
conservation units are those which are restricted totally with respect
to any exploitation or use of the natural resources, allowing only indirect
use of the benefits of these lands. These properties are classified according
to units of integral protection. These include National Parks (PARNA),
Biological Reservations (REBIO) Ecological Reservations (RESEC), Ecological
Stations (ESEC) and Areas of Important Ecological Interest (ARIES).
Units of conservation of direct use are those
in which direct use of the natural resources is allowed, but in a planned
and regulated manner. These are classified around units of maintainable
use and include Areas for Environmental Preservation (APA), National Forest
(FLONA) and Reserves for Exploration (REFLEX).
In an effort to aid conservation efforts, the
Brazilian government has been deploying a particular strategy aimed at
private landowners. This program involves the establishment of private
reserves called RPPN -"Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural,"
or Private Reserves of Natural Heritage. That type of reserve was created
by Federal Ordinance No. 98.914, of January 31, 1990, and strong expansion
of this concept was tried after 1992. Federal Ordinance No. 1922, of June
5, 1996 established rules for the recognition of RPPN.
One of the better experiences with RPPN involves
Ecotrópica Foundation. Ecotrópica was involved in acquiring
three private ranches in the Pantanal area surrounding Pantanal National
Park: Dorochê Ranch(26,518 hectares), Acurizal Farm(13,200 hectares)
and Penha Farm (13,100 hectares). Each of these were then made part of
the RPPN program. Also in the Pantanal area, Trade Social Service (SESC)
maintains two private reserves which are part of the RPPN program. Both
of these are in “Ecological Ranch SESC Pantanal,” in an area directed
influenced by the Cuiabá River. One of these properties occupies
49,485.72 hectares and the other extends 38,385.72 hectares.
There is a need to establish additional RPPNs
in the Pantanal area, in order to increase the protection of the different
habitats of this ecosystem. Property owners whose lands meet certain requirements
can request from the government to have their properties recognized as
such reserves. In order to be recognized as an RPPN, the property either
needs to be significant in terms of protection of biological biodiversity,
contain landscapes of great beauty, or offer conditions that justify environmental
recovery actions, capable of advancing the conservation of fragile, threatened
ecosystems. The awarding of RPPN status restricts the use of the lands
but also confers certain advantages. The landowners are offered tax breaks,
they will receive assistance in the management of their lands and they
will have support in the protection of their lands, such as against fires.
These are some of motivations the government is employing in order to make
more attractive the placing of lands into private preserves.
Currently, there are some 210,900 hectares in
the area of influence of the Pantanal that are being protected by the Federal
Government-IBAMA (Figure 1). There are an additional 162,785.94 hectares
in the RPPN (private property) program (Figure 2). These numbers may seem
to be large, but they are in fact small relative to the size of the Pantanal.
There is certainly not enough protected land within the Pantanal area.
In order to implement an overall, integrated management program, we need
to establish greater cooperation between the government organizations and
the private organizations, the research organizations and with society in general.
Furthermore, the Pantanal is not an isolated region but is impacted from
neighboring areas, requiring a comprehensive perspective to address the
Pantanal’s needs. It is not enough to look at the size of the protected
area inside the Pantanal and to work to increase this area, without considering
the greater basin.