A newly established Brazilian state forest is roughly the size of New Jersey and demonstrates that the state of Amapá is aggressively moving to conserve its lush landscape.
Raising the Bar for Conservation
The 5.7 million-acre Amapá State Forest brings Brazil one step closer to creating a chain of protected regions that would stretch across Amapá's sparsely settled interior.
"Brazil has raised the bar in terms of conservation commitment and has set a new global standard," says CI Vice President for Science and Amazonia Projects José Maria Cardoso da Silva.
The law creating the forest, signed by state governor Antônio Waldez Goés da Silva, protects a vast expanse of forest in the northernmost region of the Brazilian Amazon. The new preserve stems largely from the efforts of Conservation International (CI) and its Brazilian partners who have worked together for four years to push the designation.
Connecting Protected Areas, Creating a Corridor
The creation of the Amapá State Forest is a giant step in a broader effort to establish the Amapá Biodiversity Corridor, a multiple-use conservation corridor that is slated tooencompass 70 percent of the entire state.
The protected forest will link the existing Tumucumaque National Park to two indigenous lands – the Uaçá and Galibi. It marks a key advance in efforts to link diverse landscapes from the state's northern regions to the Amazon estuary in the south.
Amapá – 55 percent protected so far – is an ideal canvas for large-scale conservation efforts. The Brazilian Space Agency estimates that more than 90 percent of the state is still covered by original vegetation, including tropical forests, mangrove swamps, savannahs, and wetlands.
The proposed corridor harbors more than 1,700 species of animals and plants. It is home to swallowtail butterflies believed to live nowhere else on Earth, and large populations of species declining elsewhere, such as the jaguar ( Panthera onca
), puma ( Puma concolor
), and brown-bearded saki monkey ( Chiropotes satanas
). CI-led biodiversity surveys have recorded at least 100 species for the first time in Amapá, with 23 thought to be completely new to science.
Making Conservation Economically Viable
"The corridor allows us to make economic activity in the region more compatible with conservation," Cardoso da Silva explains. The newly protected forest will be divided into four areas, including a regulated production zone that allows limited harvesting of both timber and non-timber products.
The creation of those zones demonstrates that CI-Brazil and its partners are working not only to protect new land, but also to flesh out management plans for Amapá's protected areas.
A $25,000 grant from CI's Global Conservation Fund (GCF), for example, initially helped establish Tumucumaque in August 2002. Subsequent funding from GCF and other donors has enabled CI-Brazil to support several biological and socioeconomic surveys, construct ranger posts, hire managers, and provide basic equipment.
Conservationists are making progress in the face of unprecedented development pressures on the corridor. A road between the state's capital, Macapá, and French Guiana's Cayenne could be paved in the next few years, which would significantly boost access to the forests.
Ensuring Funds Over the Long Term
CI-Brazil, the Amapá state government, Brazil's environmental agency, and regional research institutions also aim to implement a trust fund to ensure long-term financing needed to maintain the corridor.
Regional partners involved in the effort to create the Amapá Biodiversity Corridor include: WWF-Brazil; the Amazon Protected Area Program; the Brazilian Science & Technology Foundation; the Biodiversity Research Program in Amazonia at the Goeldi Museum; and the Brazilian Institute for Research in Amazonia.