Brazil takes key step to protect wetlands

2/2/2010

Marine treasure on the Atlantic Ocean gains prominence as international wetlands site

Salvador, Brazil – Brazil’s Abrolhos National Marine Park, home to one of the largest and richest coral reef systems in the Atlantic Ocean,  has received global recognition of its importance as a wetlands site, Conservation International, Brazil’s Environment Ministry, and Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation announced today.

As part of the celebration of World Wetlands Day today, the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental body working for the conservation of wetlands and their resources, included Abrolhos National Marine Park in its List of Wetlands of International Importance.

Located on the northeast of Brazil, the park was created in 1983 as result of its ecological, social and economic value. The park and its surroundings are one of the country’s key sites for tourism and fishing. This seascape is formed by a mosaic of costal and marine ecosystems – including mangroves, coral reefs, algae and seagrasses banks, beaches and fragments of tropical forest – which contain a high number of species found nowhere else, and the largest marine biodiversity in the Southern Atlantic Ocean.

Overfishing, however, is the main threat to the conservation of the natural resources in the Abrolhos region. The announcement made by the Ramsar Convention today should help to attract investments and the conservation agreements necessary to enlarge the protected area and safeguard the livelihoods of the hundreds of fishermen communities living in the region.

“The coral reefs of the Abrolhos National Park are a safe place for the reproduction and growth of many marine species, including commercially important fish,” said Guilherme Dutra, Marine Program Director at Conservation International in Brazil. “More actions are necessary to protect a wider area, which provide food, income and well-being for local people and visitors from all over the world.”

Moreover, the costal habitats in the Abrolhos region play a key role in helping to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Mangroves and seagrass meadows sequester substantial amounts of carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the sediment below them, in addition to preventing coastal erosion and protecting coastal communities from extreme weather.

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Photos available here:  http://bit.ly/d3YaAz

For more information:

Patricia Yakabe Malentaqui
Mobile: +1 571 225-8345
Office: +1 703 341 2471
Email: p.malentaqui@conservation.org

Isabela Santos
Mobile : +55 31 9296-8555
Office : +55 31 3261-3889
Email : i.santos@conservacao.org

Notes to the editors:

Conservation International (CI): Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature for the well-being of humanity. With headquarters in Washington, DC, CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information, visit www.conservation.org