Systematic management of protected areas

Project description

Title: Consolidation of the Brazilian system of conservation units (SNUC) - LifeWeb
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) as part of its International Climate Initiative (IKI)
Country: Brazil
Lead executing agency: Ministry of the Environment (MMA)
Overall term: 2013 to 2018



Brazil is home to around 20 per cent of global biodiversity, the highest level of any country in the world. Brazil introduced the National System of Conservation Units (Sistema Nacional de Unidades de Conservação - SNUC) in the year 2000 with a view to preserving this natural heritage. The SNUC includes federal, state, municipal and privately owned protected areas and is growing continuously. The area of land already enjoying designated protection status is about four times the size of Germany. 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 protected areas are lacking in basic infrastructure and management plans. 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 authorities responsible for the national conservation unit system 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 Brazilian Ministry of the Environment agreed to prioritise the following fields of action:

  • strengthen the strategic management of the Brazilian SNUC (e.g. discussion forums, land register)
  • support the official bodies tasked with the administration of the conservation units and higher-level agencies by way of planning, management and monitoring tools (e.g. training in goal-oriented management, guidelines)
  • raise awareness of conservation unit issues in society, politics and business (e.g. through campaigns)
  • promote financial sustainability of the SNUC (e.g. through cost modelling, compensation payments)

The Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), state environmental authorities and national non-governmental organisations will be involved in the implementation of the measures.

The GOPA Consulting Group (Gesellschaft für Organisation, Planung und Ausbildung) will support the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in implementing the project. There are also plans for financing from the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW).



Between 2013 and 2018, more than 150 new conservation units were incorporated into the SNUC and the total area now measures 2.5 million square kilometres. Terrestrial protected areas’ share in Brazil’s total land area thus rose from 15 to 18 per cent; the share of marine protected areas in the country’s marine area increased from 1.5 to 26 per cent. Brazil therefore meets the requirements for Aichi Target 11 in terms of percentage share.

The department responsible for protected areas at the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment has been strengthened in its role as coordinator of the SNUC. The following results have been achieved in conjunction with GIZ and its partners:

  • The department now has a method for evaluating SNUC’s ecological representativeness, effectiveness and degree of benefit sharing (qualitative requirements for Aichi Target 11) which it needs for reporting to the Convention on Biological Diversity.
  • There is a communication plan designed to raise awareness of the SNUC in politics and society. Its early initiatives contributed to the creation of the Boqueirão da Onça protected area (around 800,000 hectares) in April 2018.
  • The documents required to apply to UNESCO for protected status for Brazil's first marine biosphere reserve are facilitating coordination across different management levels.
  • There are national guidelines and teaching materials for the development of cost-effective and practical management plans.
  • Parliamentarians can refer to a handbook to apply for budget funds specifically earmarked for protected areas in their constituencies.
  • A legally validated and more precise method for calculating the environmental compensation payable for the conservation units, including teaching materials, is being used by environmental administration staff.

In addition, a start has been made on restructuring the Brazilian Academy for Conservation Unit Management and a training course in results-based management has been set up. More than 400 people responsible for conservation areas at different administrative levels have attended so far. Over 40 field projects designed to improve conservation unit management are currently running.