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Brazil: How GIZ protects endangered tropical forests

16.08.2016 – Brazil’s tropical forests serve as habitats for countless flora and fauna species and as a vital global carbon sink. On behalf of BMZ and BMUB, GIZ is promoting the conservation of these valuable areas.

Brazil hosts the greatest diversity of species in the world. Serving as a refuge for biodiversity and as carbon sinks, the tropical rainforests hold global significance. However, logging and slash-and-burn practices are increasingly threatening these forests.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been supporting the Brazilian Government for more than 20 years through projects that help protect and promote the sustainable use of the tropical forests. The impact is clear: Brazil has established around 2,000 protected areas with a total surface area of 1.5 million square kilometres up to now; this forest area is four times as the size of Germany.

The projects are highly diverse. For example, GIZ is supporting the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment on behalf of BMZ in implementing the new forest law in the Amazon region. It obliges owners of forest areas to restore illegally cleared forest areas and enter information on their land use in an electronic environmental registry. By May 2016, 3.2 million land ownerships had been registered – that is almost 60 per cent of all properties that fall under the law.

In addition, on behalf of BMUB, GIZ is working together with the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment to promote the protection of the Atlantic coastal forest Mata Atlântica, which is threatened by climate change and is one of the five most important biodiversity hotspots in the world. For example, in cooperation with the municipality of Duque de Caxias in Rio de Janeiro, GIZ provided information on which areas in the community are particularly vulnerable to floods or heatwaves and what can be done to combat them, such as reforesting mangroves. GIZ is implementing such measures in around 50 municipalities to restore the ecosystem, reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, and thus improve the quality of life for the inhabitants.

In cooperation with training and research institutions, these experiences have been disseminated through courses and events to more than 220 local, regional and national stakeholders from the public and private sectors. In addition, GIZ is advising the Brazilian Government in integrating this knowledge into national policies such as the National Plan on Climate Change (PNA) and on how to achieve its biodiversity and climate change mitigation targets in this way. At the same time, this is an important contribution to the implementation of the United Nations 'Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development'.