Conservation Units supported by the ARPA Program avoided deforestation of 1,000 square miles between 2008 and 2020
16 fevereiro 2023
With a 20-year history, the Program of Protected Areas of the Amazon consolidates its role as the leading strategy for biodiversity conservation in the biomeBetween 2008 and 2020, protected areas of the Amazon - including Conservation Units, Indigenous Lands, and Quilombola Territories - reduced deforestation in the Amazon by 21%. Of this total, about 264,000 hectares (around 1,000 square miles) come from the CUs of the Program of Protected Areas of the Amazon, or ARPA, in its Brazilian acronym – a program that supports the consolidation of 120 CUs covering 62 million hectares in the Amazon. Avoiding this deforestation prevented about 104 million tons of CO2 from not being emitted – a value corresponding to the total emissions of the US domestic aviation in 2020, which accounts for about 17% of global emissions from the domestic aviation sector.
These data are part of a study conducted by researchers from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), WWF-Brazil, FUNBIO, and the University of Bonn. Together, they sought to quantify the impact of ARPA on reducing deforestation and CO2 emissions in the Brazilian Amazon between 2008 and 2020, providing evidence of the role of the investment mechanism through which the program supports CUs.
It was found that in the Conservation Units of Integral Protection - designed for preservation purposes only - the support of ARPA represented an additional 9% reduction in deforestation compared to the non-supported CUs in the same category. At the same time, in the Sustainable Use Conservation Units - where conservation and sustainable use of part of natural resources walk together - the presence of ARPA resulted in an additional reduction in deforestation of 39%.
Creating protected areas is recognized globally as one of the most effective strategies for biodiversity conservation. In 2002, Brazil established ARPA to support the consolidation of 60 million hectares (about 231,000 square miles) of Conservation Units in the Amazon. The program created the world's largest tropical forest conservation initiative, playing a key role in conservation and ecosystem services – crucial for the country and the world, especially considering the Paris Agreement goals.
"The study translates into data the results of more than two decades of a Brazilian initiative that is now a model for similar programs in other countries, such as Colombia and Peru. The results show how, by conserving the forest, ARPA starts a chain reaction, benefiting climate, biodiversity, and the more than 20 million inhabitants of the region, also generating a positive impact beyond the edges of the biome," says Fernanda Marques, co-author of the study and Portfolio Manager at FUNBIO.
Although the study results point out that resources such as ARPA are fundamental to the success of the UCs implementation, the researchers warn that this alone is not enough to preserve the Amazon. Protection through CUs should be accompanied by public policies to combat deforestation, with the efficient application of environmental legislation. They also should be followed by analysis and monitoring efforts providing evidence that such initiatives are effective in forest conservation and socially equitable.
Mariana Napolitano, WWF-Brazil Conservation Manager, points out that, especially at this time of resuming of environmental and social agendas, the state must demonstrate the capacity to rebuild the mechanisms that protect forests and their communities. "The study makes it clear that protected areas are important tools not only for conserving biodiversity and maintaining the traditional livelihoods of forest peoples but also for mitigating the global climate crisis. Especially from 2018, when the pressure rose again in the Amazon CUs, the deforestation observed in the ARPA CUs represented only 39% of what would be expected if there were no support from the program," she says.
Results of InvestmentsThe ARPA Program gradually transitions resources to federal and state governments, including budget allocations and alternative funding sources. In addition to the resources, it provides support tools for managing Conservation Units. The researchers sought, therefore, to highlight the effect of investments and actions that promote good conservation management.
The reduction of deforestation and CO2 emissions shows the program's effectiveness, which has a long-term, continuous financing profile through cumulative and permanent investments, focusing on structural actions. Over the past few years, much has improved in governance mechanisms and management tools. Several tools and instruments were created, especially for financial management and resource execution.
A researcher at the Center for Remote Sensing of UFMG, Britaldo Soares-Filho states that it is essential not only to promote conservation but to evaluate the impact of investments on it. "The study contributes by providing a robust methodology to evaluate these impacts, proving the successful path of investments contributed by ARPA in support of the National System of Conservation Units. Now that Brazil and its global partners have returned to investing in the conservation of the Amazon, it is important to highlight which investments have been working properly. Therefore, this work is significant because it demonstrates the effectiveness of the ARPA Program in reducing deforestation in supported Conservation Units. This analysis reveals that the investment is paying itself, which makes it feasible to make a greater contribution of resources," says Soares-Filho.
An article about the study was published in the "Biological Conservation" journal. You can find it here.
About ARPA - Áreas Protegidas da Amazônia (Protected Areas of the Amazon) is a program coordinated by the Ministry of the Environment, managed financially by FUNBIO (Brazilian Fund for Biodiversity) and financed with resources from national and international donors and federal and state governments (as a counterpart). Launched in 2002, ARPA is the largest tropical forest conservation program on the planet and the most expressive related to the theme of Conservation Units in Brazil. Learn more here