A pioneer initiative will more than triple the ocean area under environmental protection in Brazil, from 5.5 million hectares to over 17.5 million, an area larger than Greece.
Approved by the World Bank Board of Directors, the 18.2 million dollars Marine Protected Areas Project will benefit the 43 million people who live in Brazil’s 514 thousand km2 coast area. Financed by the Global Environmental Fund (GEF), the project will bring far-reaching social and economic benefits, protecting the capacity of coastal ecosystems to produce food, maintain good water quality, and increasing their resilience to and recovery from degradation. It will also increase the wellbeing and opportunities for traditional local communities that directly depend on fishing activities for subsistence
“The coastal zone is currently one of the most environmentally threatened regions in Brazil” said Izabella Teixeira, Brazil’s Minister of Environment. “The creation of conservation areas is fundamental to protect the ocean’s biodiversity and to maintain fisheries activities that currently represent some 800,000 jobs in the Country.”
The Brazilian coastal zone hosts an immense variety of environments and wildlife: from the longest continuous stretches of mangrove ecosystems in the world, to the only coral reefs existing in South America. All of them intensely submitted to human and economic pressure.
Currently, only 1.57% of Brazil’s seaboard territory is under the Marine and Coastal Protection Areas Network (MCPA), instituted by the Federal Government in 2000. For the first time, an initiative will take place not only to expand the existing MCPA, but also to promote its long term financial sustainability by developing innovative financing mechanisms.
“The World Bank is already a partner of Brazil in the implementation of conservation areas in the Amazon Region, with very successful results,” said Deborah L. Wetzel, World Bank Director for Brazil. “We have no doubts that this new project will follow the same path, not only preserving this rich environment, but also providing new development opportunities for the local communities that depend on it.” (TBC)
The main objectives of the project are: creation and consolidation of at least 120,000 km2 of new protection areas for biodiversity protection, including 9,300 km2 of enhanced biodiversity protection areas, and the establishment of at least two financial mechanisms to support the long term sustainability of the Marine and Coastal Protection Area Network.