Systematic management of protected areas (SNUC)

Project description

Title: Consolidation of the Brazilian System of Conservation Units (SNUC) – LifeWeb
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)
Country: Brazil
Lead executing agency: Brazilian Ministry of the Environment (MMA)
Overall term: 2013 to 2022



Brazil is home to around 20 per cent of global biodiversity, which represents the highest level of biodiversity in the world. In order to preserve this natural heritage, in 2000 Brazil created the national system of conservation units (Sistema Nacional de Unidades de Conservação, SNUC). At the beginning of the project in early 2013, the SNUC covered an area of 1.5 million square kilometres. It protects about 15 percent of Brazil's land area and 1.5 percent of its marine area – a total area about four times as large as Germany. In addition to the federal government, federal states, municipalities and private conservation units now contribute an appreciable part of the total number of conservation units.

Proactive regulatory tools and capacity for effective management of the protected areas are needed in order to achieve the goals agreed at international level under the Convention on Biological Diversity (Aichi Biodiversity Targets) and the Brazilian biodiversity goals. There is a shortage of administrative staff for the protected areas and insufficient provision of training for employees. Many conservation units lack management plans and basic infrastructure. There is room for more dialogue with the public, politicians and business leaders. Instruments for sustainable financing have not yet begun to take effect.

The investment needs for the SNUC are estimated at about EUR 1 billion. Ongoing protection and management tasks require about EUR 500 million every year.


The authorities responsible for the Brazilian SNUC have increased their capacity and expertise. They have tools for better management and financial sustainability of the system and can mobilise the public interest in issues relating to conservation areas.



The project and the Ministry of the Environment (MMA) of Brazil agreed to prioritise the following fields of action:

  • Strengthen the strategic management of the Brazilian SNUC (for example discussion forums, land register),
  • Support the official bodies tasked with the administration of the conservation units and higher-level agencies with planning, management and monitoring tools (for example training in results-oriented management, guidelines),
  • Raise awareness of conservation unit issues among the general public, politicians and business (for example through campaigns),
  • Promote financial sustainability of the SNUC (for example through cost modelling, compensation payments).

The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports the project as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) with up to EUR 6.8 million for advisory services. Furthermore, the German consulting firm GOPA Consulting Group (Gesellschaft für Organisation, Planung und Ausbildung) supports the project. The Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), state environmental authorities and national non-governmental organisations are also involved in implementing the activities. This ensures that the measures become effective and are continuously anchored.



  • 2,446 nature conservation units have been incorporated into the SNUC (as of January 2020). They cover an area of 2.5 million square kilometres and protect 18.6 per cent of Brazil's land area and 26.4 per cent of its marine area. The department responsible for protected areas at the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment has been strengthened in its role as coordinator of the SNUC.
  • A permanent forum for SNUC managers has been set up with the project's support.
  • The project has assisted with compiling the documentation required to apply to UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) for protected status for Brazil's first marine biosphere reserve.
  • A handbook for parliamentary motions for amendment has been created and made available. It is intended to provide specific advice to all persons who submit and develop a motion for amendment or a cooperation proposition for expanding, implementing or consolidating the SNUC.
  • Tools for assessing the ecological representation, efficiency and equality of the SNUC are now available. They can be used in reporting to the Convention on Biological Diversity (with regard to Aichi Target 11).
  • A communication plan has been created which is used to inform political actors and society in general about the SNUC. The first activities in April 2018 helped establish two nature conservation units in the region known as Boqueirão da Onça (approx. 800,000 hectares) in Bahia. The video production 'O Valor das Unidades de Conservação para a Sociedade Brasileira' (the value of nature conservation units for Brazilian society) is another success.
  • The project has helped introduce a legally validated and more precise method for calculating the environmental compensation payable for the conservation units. This includes training documentation for the staff at environmental authorities. The fourth distance learning course with 2,000 participants was successfully completed at the end of 2018.
  • A course in ‘introduction to preparing management plans’ has been developed and made available on the MMA distance learning platform. A total of 714 participants were certified in the course's first class.
  • A digital management analysis and monitoring tool (SAMGe) has been introduced. It has been implemented by ICMBio in 313 of the 324 national nature conservation units. Other state and municipal administrative authorities in 167 national and 24 municipal units also use this tool. The online tool was published in early 2019.
  • The project has initiated restructuring of the Brazilian Academy for Conservation Unit Management (ACADEBio). Now institutions are available for implementation of a course in results-oriented management. Over 40 key stakeholders have received training in results-oriented management and nine stakeholders have been trained as multipliers. In total, over 400 managers of nature conservation units and staff at environmental authorities have received training in results-oriented management. Implementation projects to improve the management of conservation units are taking place in all Brazilian ecozones and at all levels of administration.

At the request of MMA, the cooperation was extended until 2021 in order to further consolidate progress on the challenges of managing the SNUC, its sustainable financing and public awareness in Brazilian society.

Last update: March 2021