Consolidation of the Brazilian system of conservation units

Project description

Title: Consolidation of the Brazilian system of conservation units (SNUC) – LifeWeb
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
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. In 2000, to preserve this natural heritage, Brazil founded the SNUC (Sistema Nacional de Unidades de Conservação da Natureza), a national system of ‘conservation units’. At nearly 1.6 million km², the SNUC is now one of the world’s largest protected area systems. Around 2,100 conservation units protect 18% of Brazil’s surface area and 1.5% of its marine territory – an area roughly four times the size of Germany.

At present, the system lacks effective and efficient management and monitoring instruments. These would help it to achieve the internationally agreed Aichi targets set out in the Convention on Biological Diversity and Brazil’s own biodiversity objectives. The bodies tasked with administering the protected areas are understaffed, and there are not enough basic and advanced training courses. Many of the ‘conservation units’ lack management plans and basic infrastructure. There is a lot more scope for dialogue with the general public and with policymakers and the business community. Mechanisms for sustainable funding are not yet operational. The investment requirements of the SNUC are estimated at EUR 900 million. Ongoing surveillance operations and administrative tasks require another EUR 440 million a year.


The Brazilian system of conservation units and the associated protected areas are being managed in a participatory, efficient and sustainable way with a view to preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services.



The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) is supporting the project as part of its International Climate Initiative with EUR 15 million, of which EUR 5 million has been earmarked for GIZ advisory services.

The following areas of action have been prioritised together with the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment:

  • action to improve strategic management of the Brazilian system of conservation units (SNUC);
  • action to support the official bodies tasked with the administration of conservation units and higher-level agencies through the use of planning, management and monitoring instruments;
  • action to raise awareness of protected areas among the general public, policymakers and business leaders;
  • action to promote the financial sustainability of the SNUC.


Organisational development, management skills and strategy

  • To date, more than 400 conservation unit managers and staff working for higher-level administrative agencies have benefited from training in results-based management. The training covers federal, state, municipal and private conservation units and includes all of Brazil’s biomes as well as marine and coastal territories.
  • Training in result-based management has been institutionalised within the Brazilian Academy for Conservation Unit Management.
  • A method has been devised for evaluating the ecological representativity of the SNUC in line with Aichi target 11.

Management plans and basic infrastructure

  • National guidelines have been drawn up on the development of cost-effective and practical management plans.

Action to promote the financial sustainability of the SNUC

  • The basis for calculating environmental compensation for protected areas has been defined in greater detail and standardised.
  • A manual for members of parliament on how to apply for parliamentary amendments in favour of the SNUC has been prepared and published. It gives members of parliament and senators access to budget funds which they can use for conservation units in their constituencies.
  • Ecosystem services are being integrated into the planning and management processes of Brazil’s conservation units in cooperation with the programme ‘Conserving biodiversity by integrating ecosystem services into public policy and business action’.

Raising public awareness

  • The programme is using a communication plan as a strategic implementation tool designed to raise the awareness of policymakers and wider society for the national system of conservation units.

The programme supports the implementation of Brazil’s national biodiversity policy and the national strategy for conservation units. It is helping to achieve key national and international biodiversity objectives as well as the goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, i.e. to conserve terrestrial and marine ecosystems and halt biodiversity loss. By consolidating the SNUC, the project is also helping to deliver the national climate action contributions for forests defined by Brazil in accordance with the Paris Agreement of 2015.