Biodiversity conservation of the Atlantic Forest and climate change adaptation go hand in hand
Title: Biodiversity and climate change in the Mata Atlântica, Brazil
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) under the International Climate Initiative (IKI)
Lead executing agency: Ministério do Meio Ambiente (MMA)
Overall term: 2013 to 2020
Mata Atlântica, or the coastal Atlantic forest, is home to over 120 million people and is the engine room 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 the fact that it includes megacities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The Atlantic Forest acts as a storage for greenhouse gases and plays an important role globally as a carbon sink. It also provides essential ecosystem services for Brazilian society, such as supplying drinking water to the country’s major metropolitan areas.
There has been a gradual decrease in the rates of deforestation in the region in recent years. Nevertheless, high degrees of fragmentation among the remaining forested areas continue to jeopardise the maintenance of biodiversity. Climate change is an additional challenge facing the region. Extreme weather events such as floods and long periods of drought have had devastating socio-economic consequences for the population and the economy in recent years. As of yet, just how vulnerable the Atlantic Forest is to climate change remains unclear. Conserving and restoring the Atlantic Forest while taking into account climate and ecosystem factors represents a key challenge for the region.
The Brazilian Government has set itself ambitious goals for biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation, such as those in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) or in the national climate change policy (Política Nacional sobre a Mudança do Clima, PNMC).
Improved conservation of biodiversity and the restoration of former forest areas in three networks of protected areas reduce the impacts of climate change. The Atlantic Forest is better adapted to the consequences of climate change.
The project is working in three selected networks of protected areas (mosaics). The project focuses on measures for ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) to the impacts of climate change and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through ecosystem-based mitigation (EbM).
As part of a comprehensive strategy of adaptation to climate change for Brazil and its population, the project has agreed the following focal areas with the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment (MMA):
- Climate-sensitive development scenarios and analyses of climate risks and consequences (vulnerability analyses) within political planning processes;
- Economic instruments and incentive structures for ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change;
- Ecosystem-based adaptation and mitigation strategies;
- Political strategies for biodiversity conservation, forest restoration and climate change mitigation.
- Climate risks for the entire area of the Atlantic Forest have been identified. Participatory processes have been used to develop ecosystem-based climate adaptation measures such as the conservation of riparian forests and the restoration of natural forests in headwater zones for an area encompassing over 210,000 hectares.
- Educational and research bodies have institutionalised their expertise on ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change. In particular, this expertise covers capabilities in training multipliers that will apply practical knowledge.
- Over 220 participants from the areas of government, administration, industry and universities have learnt more about climate change and EbA in courses and other events.
- Twelve pilot projects aimed at mainstreaming the issues of climate change and EbA in planning processes for communities, conservation areas and water catchment areas have been implemented. A further 29 pilot projects are at the planning stage.
- Key Brazilian stakeholders involved in restoring natural forests have expanded their knowledge and skills (capacity development) and the Atlantic Forest Restoration Pact (PACTO) has been strengthened.
- Brazil employed innovative approaches to select the most suitable methods for each region during the development of the national policy and agenda for the restoration of natural vegetation (Proveg and Planaveg), which were adopted in 2017. The costs for restoration measures sunk.
- Studies on costs and sources of finance improved the availability of funding for EbA measures in project areas. The project advises the Brazilian environmental agency Ibama on using fines to fund environmental projects. This approach offers great potential for increasing the availability of funding at a national level. The Brazilian Government is also integrating knowledge and experience with EbA into other national policies, such as the National Plan on Climate Change Adaptation (PNA).