Biodiversity and climate change in the Mata Atlântica

Project description

Title: Biodiversity and climate change in the Mata Atlântica
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
Country: Brazil
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Environment (Ministério do Meio Ambiente, MMA)
Overall term: 2013 to 2018

Brazil. The Mata Atlântica covers an area three times the size of Germany. (Photo: Wigold Schaffer) © GIZ


The Mata Atlântica (Atlantic Forest) on Brazil’s Atlantic coast is home to more than 120 million people and is at the heart of the Brazilian economy, generating more than 70 per cent of the nation’s economic output. The region is one of the world’s five most important biodiversity hotspots despite its megacities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, host of the 2016 Olympic Games. It acts as a carbon sink of global importance and provides essential ecosystem services for Brazilian society, such as supplying drinking water to the country’s major metropolitan areas.

The rates of deforestation in this region have experienced a gradual decrease in recent years. Nevertheless, high degrees of fragmentation among the remaining forested areas continue to jeopardise the maintenance of biodiversity. Climate change constitutes yet another challenge facing the region. Extreme weather events have had devastating socio-economic consequences in the past few years. As of yet, just how vulnerable the Atlantic Forest is to the impacts of climate change remains unclear. Conserving and restoring the Mata Atlântica with due consideration to climate and ecosystem factors currently represents a key challenge for the region.


Improved conservation of biodiversity and the restoration of original forest cover in three selected networks of protected areas (mosaics) contribute to mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change in the Mata Atlântica.


On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), GIZ is assisting Brazil’s Ministry of the Environment in achieving its biodiversity conservation and climate objectives; these include fulfilling its commitments under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). GIZ is also supporting Brazil's climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in the context of its national climate policy. The project focuses on measures for promoting ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) to the impacts of climate change and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through ecosystem-based mitigation (EbM) in selected networks of protected areas in the Mata Atlântica, known as mosaics.

EbA is the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. The main areas of cooperation are:

  • Climate-sensitive development scenarios and vulnerability analyses within planning processes
  • Economic instruments and incentive structures for implementing EbA measures
  • Ecosystem-based adaptation and mitigation strategies (EbA, EbM)
  • Public policies for biodiversity conservation, forest restoration and climate protection

The project’s cooperation partners include the Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio), Serviço Florestal Brasileiro and PACTO (Pacto pela Restauração da Mata Atlântica). The GFA Consulting Group provides support for the project in the Lagamar region.


By means of participatory processes carried out in the project areas, climate risks along with possible EbA strategies have been identified for an area encompassing over 2.5 million hectares. The project has already developed ecosystem-based adaptation and mitigation measures for an area of more than 50,000 hectares.

Under a comprehensive strategy, the EbA-specific know-how and expertise of training and research institutions are being strengthened. This is primarily improving the institution-based training of multipliers and is fostering the dissemination and application of experience and knowledge.

Over 220 local, regional and national stakeholders from the public and private sectors have received training on climate change and ecosystem-based adaptation through courses and events.

Fifteen pilot projects aimed at mainstreaming the issue of climate change, along with ecosystem-based adaptation strategies to deal with its impacts, in planning processes of communities, conservation areas and water catchment areas are currently being implemented.

The strategic alliance between key Brazilian stakeholders involved in restoring natural forests has been enhanced through the development of resources, skills and performance capacity and through close cooperation with the Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact (PACTO).

Brazil. The involvement of local communities is key for the preservation, restoration and sustainable use of the Atlantic rainforest.  (Photo: Werner Rudhart) © GIZ

The project is supporting Brazil's national agenda to restore natural vegetation by providing advisory services for the elaboration of a national action plan. Using innovative methods, the most appropriate restoration approaches are being selected for specific regions. The cost reductions achieved in the process are to be used to promote large-scale efforts to restore natural forest.

Knowledge and experience with ecosystem-based adaptation measures are being integrated into other national policies, such as the National Plan on Climate Change (PNA).