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To know is to preserve

The State of São Paulo has more than 1 million hectares that need to be better understood and preserved. Characterizing them, classifying them and analyzing them is what is being done through the research project coordinated by Paulo Nogueira Neto, of the Biosciences Institute of USP and vice-president of SOS Mata Atlântica (SOS Atlantic Rain Forest), in partnership with the Forestry Foundation and with the support of FAPESP. The idea is to gather, organize and maintain updated data on the protected areas of the state, either public or private – which will make it possible to suggest parameters for their administration and management that will serve to underline environmental management policies.

“These areas that in the rest of the world are attractions for ecotourism which permits their preservation, here in Brazil generally remain closed to the public and are insufficiently protected”, explains Nogueira Neto. “The last large state forests are on the coastal region and what we find on the plateau are fragments, stands of trees, badly destroyed.” Research carried out by the Institute of Spatial Research (Inpe) and by the Forestry Institute have provided data on the flora and fauna of 548 woodland stands of greater than 100 hectares, almost all in private areas, and of 7,500 smaller stands of the Atlantic Rain Forest, permitting a mapping of all of these areas, with indicator of deforesting, conservation and usage.

The analyses were done by comparing national and international cases, based on information of organizations such as the World Commission for Protected Areas, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Conservation International and Unesco. Besides the interest of the state itself in actions related to the environment, there is now the Federal Law of the National System of Conservation Units (Number 9,985 of 18/07/2000), which establishes the characteristics of each conservation unit and anticipates the creation of an Administration Committee, formed by members of society and public authority.

Norgueira Neto explained that the second phase of the research project intends to hire specialists to give an opinion on the forest stands, to advise the state on the re-organization of the conservation units and to advise on the implanting of local Administration Committees. Furthermore, they will suggest one hundred stands to be Areas of Relevant Ecological Interest. These will be areas smaller than those of the Environmental Protection Areas (APAs in the Portuguese acronym) and which will receive similar treatment to regarding preservation, however without being taken over.

They can be used (tourism, farming) but not destroyed. They will remain under the control of government organizations that will stimulate their conservation through the concession of awards or of tax breaks. They may be open to the public visitation and may generate an income that would help in their adequate administration.

Paulo Nogueira Neto believes that the knowledge generated through the project will enable the training of workers and technicians throughout the state in the management of natural areas and as well could benefit managers of conservation units of other States within the country.

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