Protected Areas

Protected areas are “territorial spaces and their environmental resources, including jurisdictional waters, with relevant natural characteristics, legally established by the government, with conservation objectives and defined limits, under a special administrative regime, to which adequate guarantees of protection apply”(art. 2, I, of Act 9.985/2000).

The protected areas, which are part of the Sistema Nacional de Gerenciamento de Unidades de Conservação [National System of Management of Conservation Units] (SNUC), according to Act 9.985/2000, are divided into two groups, with specific characteristics: fully protected units and sustainable use units.

The fully protected units group is composed of five categories of protected areas:

Ecological station – to preserve nature and conduct research

Biological reserve – to fully preserve the biota and other natural features that exist within its limits, with no direct interference or environmental modifications, by taking recovery measures in its altered ecosystems and the necessary management actions to recover and preserve the natural balance, biological diversity and natural ecological processes.

National park – to preserve natural ecosystems of high ecological relevance and scenic beauty, making it possible to conduct scientific research and the development of education and environmental interpretation activities, as well as recreation in contact with nature and ecological tourism.

Natural monument – to preserve natural sites that are rare, unique or of great scenic beauty.

Wildlife refuge – to protect natural environments where species or communities of local flora and resident or migratory fauna have their conditions to exist or reproduce assured.

The sustainable use units group consists of seven categories of protected areas:

Environmental protection areas – in general, it is a vast area, with a certain degree of human occupation, endowed with abiotic, biotic, aesthetic or cultural attributes that are especially important for the life quality and well-being of human populations. Its fundamental objectives are to protect biological diversity, discipline the occupation process and ensure the sustainable use of natural resources.

Area of relevant ecological interest – generally, it is a small area, with little or no human occupation, and extraordinary natural features. It can also house rare examples of regional biota. Its purpose is to maintain regionally or locally important natural ecosystems and regulate the accepted use of these areas, to make it compatible with the objectives of nature conservation.

National forest – it is an area covered by forest, with predominantly native species and its fundamental purpose is the multiple sustainable use of forest resources and scientific research, with emphasis on methods to exploit native forests sustainably.

Extractive reserve – it is an area used by local populations and indigenous peoples whose subsistence is based on extractivism and, in addition, on subsistence agriculture and small animal husbandry. Its primary purposes are to protect the livelihoods and culture of these populations and ensure sustainable use of the unit’s natural resources.

Wildlife reserve – it is a natural area with animal populations of native species, both terrestrial and aquatic, whether resident or migratory. It is suitable for technical-scientific studies on the sustainable economic management of wildlife resources.

Sustainable development reserve – it is a natural area that shelters local populations and indigenous peoples whose existence is based on sustainable systems to exploit natural resources. These systems were developed over generations and adapted to local ecological conditions. They play a fundamental role in protecting the nature and maintaining the biological diversity.

Private heritage natural reserve – it is a private area, established in perpetuity, to preserve biological diversity.

Mapa Amazônia

Mapa Amazônia

The map shows the indigenous lands and protected areas.

Content by Erika Pinto. Map by Isabel Castro.

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Family farming

Family farming

In Brazil, 4,367,902 family establishments, or 84.4% of all rural establishments, occupy 24.3% of the total area of rural establishments, or 80.25 million hectares, distributed in grasslands (45%), forests (28%) and crops (22%).