— Despite increased scientific research on Brazil’s exceptional biodiversity, further studies are needed to help set conservation priorities, learn the secrets of the nation’s unique flora and fauna, and help make conservation part of the Brazilian national identity, say scientists who attended the 19th International Congress of the Society for Conservation Biology.
A collection of 26 scientific articles released during the congress in Brasilia as a special section of the magazine Conservation Biology focused on conservation priorities and challenges in Brazil. Conservation Biology, permitted Conservation International (CI), to translate the articles into Portuguese for the first edition of CI – Brazil’s new scientific journal, called Mega Diversity.
The 26 articles cover topical issues in Brazilian conservation including deforestation, human impact, indigenous lands, public policy, sustainable management, and gaps and advances in scientific knowledge.
"There is a growing scientific basis within Brazil and the research from these scientists is increasing," said Gustavo Fonseca, the CI executive vice-president. "The capacity of Brazilian scientists to conduct more research on other areas of conservation and sustainability shows the importance of their research for the science of conservation at the international level."
While the articles demonstrate the increasing research on Brazil’s biodiversity, they also reveal disparities in the depth of the studies depending on the areas involved. The Amazon, Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado, for example, need additional research that focuses on biodiversity and biogeography. Other areas such as the Pantanal and the Caatinga regions require greater understanding of ecosystem dynamics to help officials know how to conserve them.
Fonseca also cited another challenge – increasing the political and public awareness of such scientific results. The 26 articles call attention to the need to integrate conservation into the Brazilian national identity, as well as plans for future economic growth and poverty reduction.
Despite known difficulties including direct threats to conservation in some areas, the articles conclude some optimism exists. They acknowledge creative solutions for conserving and exploring specific important biological areas, as well as the possibility for sustainable development if decision-makers support such policies over reaping short-term profits.
The term "mega diversity" was created in 1988 by Russell Mittermeier, the CI president, to designate countries with the planet’s richest biodiversity. Jose Maria Cardoso Silva, vice-president of science of CI-Brazil, explained that naming the magazine special section Mega Diversity would focus attention on conservation issues in the country considered the most "mega diverse" on Earth.
"It became necessary to create this scientific journal, which provides information not only about scientific research conducted by Conservation International and its partners, but by the scientific community in general," Cardoso Silva said of the quarterly publication.
During the congress, Conservation International also launched the book "The Ecological Corridors of the Tropical Forests of Brazil" in partnership with the Mamirauá Institute. The publication highlights the strategy for conservation of the Amazonian and Atlantic forests, including the protection of larger tracts of land to include entire ecosystems and migration routes.