Social Participation

The pressure of organized social movements, trade unions, academics and other actors, through much struggle and demands, intensifying from the late 1980s, channelled the construction and protection of universal public policies to ensure human rights, by establishing decentralized and participatory systems in public policies 1. The Federal Constitution of 1988 consolidated rights and, in multiple provisions, called for citizens’ participation in the formulation, implementation and social control of public policies. In particular, articles 198, 204 and 206 of the Constitution led to the creation of public policy councils in the areas of health, social assistance and education at all three levels of government - federal, state and municipal. Such experiments led to the multiplication of councils in other thematic areas at these three levels of government.

Social participation in environmental policy and management is provided for in several instruments, such as the national policies for the Environment, Water Resource Management, Environmental Education, Social Participation, and for Agenda 21, among others. The National System of Conservation Areas is another policy that presupposes transparency in management, engagement and social participation as a key aspect of its implementation.

“It is essential to strengthen and expand participatory planning processes for protected areas as a mechanism that actively engages stakeholders, generating a space for dialogue where concerns and expectations are analysed, and commitments and responsibilities established”

The Declaration of Bariloche, document resulting from the 2nd Latin American Congress of National Parks and other Protected Areas (2007)2.

“We recognise the importance of participatory processes and recommend the adoption of mechanisms that allow the representation and participation of all local actors involved with the Conservation Area”.

Durban Accord, adopted at the 5th Congress, held in South Africa in 2003 3.

The challenge of conserving biodiversity, even in limited areas such as Conservation Areas, cannot be achieved without partnership with society. It is even less possible without the recognition that, in most cases, traditional ways of life not only conserve biological diversity but, throughout human history, have been essential for generating and maintaining the many processes of biological diversity that we know today. Increasingly, conservationists, scientists and managers realize that the strategy of conserving biodiversity in protected areas, ignoring the broader social and political landscape, is ineffective. While misuse of land and resources outside these areas continues, the future of Conservation Areas and their biodiversity will be threatened. In addition, establishing protected areas without addressing the problems and rights of local populations creates conflicts and resentments that ultimately threaten the integrity of the biodiversity that it is intended to conserve. Given this framework, protected area management models focus on reconciling people and biodiversity.

One example is that of mosaics of conservation areas that bring together areas with different purposes and different levels of permitted uses, enabling continuity of the traditional activities of local communities and the generation of new income alternatives. Another example is that of extractive reserves and sustainable development reserves, which seek through zoning to harmonize the productive activities of local communities and the conservation of biodiversity. Although these new models represent a significant advance, much remains to be done in the search for common ground.

A number of these categories and models may function as examples of alternative, more rational and sustainable forms of natural resource use, to be followed even outside specially protected areas. It is interesting to note that these categories are still considered by many adepts of the preservation model that excludes human populations, as second-rate conservation areas, on the grounds that they have objectives other than protecting biodiversity. This argument, however, ignores the fact that the presence of indigenous, quilombola or traditional communities, defending their rights and territories, contributes extremely effectively to territorial integrity and environmental conservation; that complementary models enable an increase in the area covered by protected areas by increasing connectivity, which is fundamental for the maintenance of biodiversity; and that even sustainable use categories have zones designed exclusively for the protection of biodiversity.

Conservation as a possibility for social transformation

With the emergence of these new models, biodiversity conservation has acquired a new dimension: that of an agent of social transformation. Conservation efforts have begun to identify and promote social processes that allow local communities to conserve biodiversity as part of their livelihoods. Expressions of popular participation have become part of the language of many development agencies, from nongovernmental organizations to government institutions and development banks; but there are several possible interpretations for these terms.

During the colonial period, management was coercive, and populations regarded as an impediment to conservation. Until the 1970s, participation was seen as a way of achieving voluntary submission of populations to the protected area model. During the 1980s, participation was taken to mean encouraging interest in the protection of natural resources. Later, in the 1990s, participation came to be understood as the involvement of local populations in the management of protected areas. Clearly, there has been a growing recognition of the key role of local communities in biodiversity conservation.

Thus, conservationists and protected area managers – obliged to deal with surrounding communities, council members, residents and users of the areas – began to incorporate participatory processes into their activities. It is interesting to note that, while recognizing participation as something desirable and with the potential to make protected area management more efficient, several Conservation Area management bodies are afraid of real participation, along the self-mobilizing lines described above. Participation is seen as desirable only within certain controllable limits. Nevertheless, many participatory methods and approaches have been developed, to the point where it has become difficult to imagine conservation of protected areas without the involvement of local actors.

Despite the great potential participation offers, there are many difficulties: cultural differences and differing points of view between conservationists and local communities are great, and accommodating the different priorities of the various actors with local politics and economic reality is hard work. Respecting local social structures may in some cases be made difficult by decision-making processes in communities that marginalize women, young people or particular groups, making the context even more complex. Nevertheless, building effective participation and respect for the culture of local communities can bring benefits for conservation and to these communities.

The great challenge is not only to implement projects that integrate protected areas and local populations, but rather to achieve the engagement of individuals and organizations that can create the social, economic, legal and institutional atmosphere that ensures the protection of biodiversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity, based on the pillars of conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its components and the sharing of benefits arising from its utilization, has consolidated the idea that only integration between the engagement and participation of local communities and scientific conservation strategies can ensure the future of biodiversity.

Public Consultation

Involving the public in Conservation Area processes is essential at all times. The rights of indigenous peoples, quilombolas and traditional communities to consultation and to prior, free and informed consent is generically provided for in Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization. Besides the importance of involvement and ongoing participation in the management of Conservation Areas, the SNUC establishes the obligation for prior consultation in the creation of all categories of protected areas, excepting biological reserves and ecological stations. In these cases this was because, as public consultations were not required for their creation by Law Nº 6.902/1981 which provided for the creation of Ecological Stations, nor by (Decree. Nº 99.274/1990), regulating them, both of which preceded the SNUC, the situation for these two categories was maintained unchanged. Given the specific objectives of these areas, designed to safeguard unique and endangered species or landscapes, it was considered a question of force majeure and the SNUC maintained non-mandatory public consultations for the categories of biological reserve and ecological station.

However, for the creation of any other type of Conservation Area, public consultation, preferably carried out in the community directly affected and with wide publicity, is an indispensable procedure. This should be one of the moments for the presentation of the proposal of its creation of the new area, of the technical documents that establish its size, boundaries and purposes, seeking to clarify all the doubts that the community may have about it. Consultation is also required to extend or to alter the category of the Conservation Area. As previously mentioned, the participation of and consultation with communities during the process of developing the management plan is also required 4.

The public consultation process should be planned and conducted in such a way as to enable the participation of all stakeholders; thereby ensuring the effective representation of society, without which certain people or particular groups may either be disadvantaged or benefitted. The lead must be taken by the legal body responsible or by another legally delegated institution. The process must be representative and transparent. In addition, the responsible public body should clearly present the arguments underpinning its recommendation for the creation or alteration of the Conservation Area, or when proposing the management plan. Finally, disclosure should be transparent and full. All interested parties should be informed of the consultation 5.

The public consultation should not be seen as a one-off, but rather should comprise a cycle of discussions and community involvement. Dissemination of information about the consequences of creating a protected area and the process of participatory management create opportunities for negotiation, forestalling conflicts and enabling alliances for environmental conservation. The process is an opportunity to gain understanding and address the difficulties of the different sectors involved in the Conservation Area.

Management Council

Another important innovation of the SNUC is the presumption of community participation through management councils that advise the area’s management body. The Management Council is a forum bringing together public, private and collective interests, and aims to promote the participative and integrated management of the area to be conserved.

There are two types of Conservation Area councils: advisory and deliberative. At the federal level, the categories of Conservation Areas with advisory councils are National Park, Biological Reserve, Ecological Station, Natural Monument, Wildlife Refuge and National Forest, while categories with a deliberative council are Sustainable Development Reserve and Extractive Reserve. There are some Conservation Area categories where the type of council is not yet specified: Environmental Protection Area, Area of Special Environmental Importance, Wildlife Reserve and Private Natural Heritage Reserve. The SNUC does not make clear what type of council applies in the case of Environmental Protection Areas (APAs) and ICMBio has so far assumed the function of an advisory council in APAs6.

The objectives of the advisory council are to guarantee transparency in the management of the Conservation Area through exercising social control, contributing to the development and implementation of the management plan, and integrating the area with communities, the private sector, research institutions, NGOs and government bodies, as well as with other neighbouring protected areas. Deliberative councils have additional functions, such as approval of the Management Plan and the letting of contracts with public interest civil society organisations (OSCIPs) for shared management.
Councils should have an equal representation of public bodies and civil society, contributing to the transparency of the area’s management. The table below provides a checklist of the attributions of these councils. It should be emphasized that, whether they are advisory or deliberative, these councils are above all "managers", in other words they should be directly involved in the day-to-day management of the conservation area.

According to Decree No. 4,340 of August 22, 2002 regulating the SNUC, the responsibilities of the councils are:

  • To draft its internal rules of procedure, within ninety days of its establishment;
  • To monitor the preparation, implementation and revision of the management plan of the Conservation Area, where applicable, ensuring its participative character;
  • To promote the harmonisation of the Conservation Area with other specially protected areas and territorial spaces and their buffer zones;
  • To endeavour to reconcile the interests of the various social groups that have a stake in the area;
  • To review the area’s budget and the annual financial report prepared by the executive body in light of the objectives of the Conservation Area;
  • To give its opinion, in the case of an advisory council, or to approve, in the case of a deliberative council, the contract and the provisions of the partnership agreement with an OSCIP, in cases of shared management of the area;
  • To monitor the management by the OSCIP and to recommend the termination of the partnership agreement, in the case of proven irregularity;
  • To provide warnings of any works or activities with the potential to have an impact on the Conservation Area, its buffer zone, mosaics or ecological corridors; and
  • To propose guidelines and actions to harmonise, integrate and optimize the relationship with residents of the surrounding area or inside the area, as appropriate.

In 2014, ICMBio updated the guidelines for procedures for the formation and functioning of advisory councils in federal Conservation Areas. Below are the main principles and guidelines relevant to the competencies of the Councils (IN 9/20141 7):

I - Principles:

  1. Ensure the conservation of the biodiversity, ecological processes and ecosystems that are part of the Conservation Area and its area of influence;
  2. Guarantee the objectives for which the Conservation Area was created;
  3. The legitimacy of representation and equal conditions of participation of the differing sectors of civil society and public authorities; and
  4. Recognition, valuing of and respect for the social and environmental diversity of traditional peoples and communities, as well as their systems of organization and social representation, territories and traditional knowledge.

II - Guidelines:

  1. Promote dialogue, representation, expression, conflict management, negotiation and participation of the multiple societal interests related to Conservation Areas;
  2. Ensure the transparency of the management processes of Conservation Areas, appropriate to the local context in each case and with the participation of different sectors of society;
  3. Seek the integration of Conservation Areas into the land-use planning of their area of influence, establishing relationships with the appropriate participation forums, public agencies and civil society organizations for the improvement of the quality of life and the environment;
  4. Seek the integration of environmental policy with policies explicitly guided by the three pillars of human development: education, health and income;
  5. Ensure the legitimacy of representation and equality of participation for the interested parties, taking into account their characteristics and needs, including traditional populations and economically vulnerable local communities, through their identification, mobilization, organizational support and capacity building;
  6. Promote the ongoing capacity building of the Area management team and its advisers, together with other training activities that strengthen the ability of stakeholders to better support the management and effectiveness of the Conservation Area;
  7. Ensure official response to and effective consideration of the views and deliberations of the Councils and support the search for the financial means for their ongoing functioning; and
  8. Ensure the public character of Council meetings and publicise their decisions and views.

Federal Conservation Area Councils

According to ICMBio's dynamic listing 8, in 2018, 278 of Brazil’s 327 federal Conservation Areas had management councils.

The SNUC requires the creation of deliberative councils for Extractive Reserves (Resex), Sustainable Development Reserves (RDS) and Biosphere Reserves advisory councils for Integrated Protection, National Forests (Flona) and Conservation Area Mosaics. In some Extractive Reserves, as their very origin is related to strong social movements, the practice of having a decision-making forum predates their creation. Some areas, such as Carijós Ecological Station (Santa Catarina), had management committees prior to the SNUC and transformed these into their management councils. See an assessment of such management councils in an ISA report here.

Below is a list of recommendations arising out of an analysis of problems relating to the establishment of Conservation Area management councils.

Recommendations for the establishment of Conservation Area councils 9:

  1. The composition of the council should be as balanced as possible between representatives of government, private sector and civil society - except in the case of sustainable use Conservation Areas, where there may be a proportionally greater representation of traditional populations having use rights over the area;
  2. Capacity building, training, and workshops for counsellors should be a continuous process;
  3. Appointments to positions of Conservation Area directors should take into account the profile, experience and qualification necessary to conduct council business effectively;
  4. The area councils may, on a case by case basis, establish thematic sub-committees. Depending on the specific issues, they may ask the management body to hold training workshops to prepare these and facilitate discussions on the drafting of rules of procedure and any other topic of concern to the council;
  5. The packed workload of social actors, resulting from their participation in multiple spheres of public management (for example, in Watershed Committees, Municipal Environmental Councils, Municipal Health or Education Councils, and other bodies) suggests that in some cases, there may be an overlapping of activities, which could be considered a positive way of achieving a cross-cutting dynamic between the different sectors;
  6. The councils of mosaics of areas should be composed of representatives of the councils of the protected areas that make up the mosaic together with other actors identified for this purpose;
  7. The forums for discussion and representation under the councils should reflect the aspirations of society for progress on issues such as gender and intergenerational, interethnic and multicultural relations, among others;
  8. Local, sub-national, national and international issues, together with liaison with other local organizational bodies concerned with participatory management, should, when related to the business of the council, form part of its agenda;
  9. Regardless of the category of the Conservation Area, it will be necessary to develop sustainable management plans for its surrounding area, in order to control, mitigate or reduce possible impacts on the Conservation Area;
  10. In full protection areas with resident traditional and other populations, procedures for drawing up the legal agreement dealing with the use of the area’s natural resources by such populations and the procedures for their resettlement, need to be discussed in the Councils and the process monitored by the Public Prosecution Service.

The role of these councils will tend to grow, as the democratization of management of the area grows, to become the main component of management. It is essential that certain principles are followed in the day to day business of the council, such as the legality, legitimacy and representativity of the council, the representativity of the councillors and the parity among board members, both as regards gender and sector, as well as government/non-government and employees/employers 10.

There are a number of benefits of an active Conservation Area council, such as increased dialogue and trust between the managing body, the local community, public agencies and civil society institutions; better governance and political support for the Conservation Area among local communities, the private sector, NGOs, research institutions, and other stakeholders; and greater understanding of the region and the political-institutional context in which Conservation Areas are located.

See more about Management Councils

Conservation Area councils - A guide to their creation and operations, by Imaflora and Imazon, 2009.
Conselhos gestores de UCs federais - A guide for managers and councillors, ICMBio, 2014.


Management tools

How to manage Conservation Areas and why?

Concern about how to manage nature may initially provoke a number of questions: Should we really be concerned with managing nature? Why? How? Where? Answers do exist, but the questions should really be: Is nature not self-sufficient? Why can she not 'go it alone'? Nature does have the capacity to 'go it alone', if ecosystems are large enough and external changes are not too intrusive. For example, nature has already "managed by itself" after mass extinctions, regaining diversity in a few million years. The most appropriate question to ask would therefore be whether the human species would survive or perish by letting nature alone deal with our anthropogenic impact. Thus, the strongest reason to justify the need to manage ecosystems to be conserved in protected areas - or even outside them - is the level (in intensity and scale) of human impact and its consequences for our own species. Human activities have everywhere damaged the natural regenerative and self-sustaining capacity of various ecosystems. If we wish to mitigate the effects of phenomena such as conversion of natural areas, invasive species, expansion of pathogens, chemical and industrial pollution, then management is a fundamental tool.
In the specific case of Conservation Areas, it is possible to spell out direct reasons for their management 11:

  1. Protected areas are generally insufficient for the survival of all the species in the area and for the maintenance of its ecological processes; thus, management is often necessary to keep populations at viable levels;
  2. The areas are also too small to contain the normal regime of disturbances that control the processes that maintain diversity; so, management is necessary to simulate these disturbances;
  3. Protected areas are often so fragmented or so isolated that natural migrations are unable to counterbalance local extinctions; under these conditions, the translocation of individuals between areas may become necessary;
  4. Protected areas are generally surrounded by hostile anthropogenic environments that house invasive species and processes of degradation; management can reduce the effects of such a situation.

There is no single theoretical basis for management, but it is clear that it must be grounded on empirical theories and biological studies. Some principles are important; even in the face of the enormity of the challenge, the management approach needs to be creative, flexible and interdisciplinary:

  1. Critical ecological processes, the composition of biodiversity and the interaction between ecological groups need to be maintained;
  2. Species composition is not the only important element in the definition of biodiversity, so too are its structure and function;
  3. External threats should be minimized, and external benefits maximized;
  4. Evolutionary processes must be preserved; and
  5. Management should be adaptive and as minimally intrusive as possible.

Ecosystem or key species approach?

There is intense debate over what the main management approach to conservation should be. Some conservationists argue that ecosystem management is the appropriate approach. Such management is defined as an "approach to maintaining or restoring the composition, structure and function of natural or modified ecosystems for long-term sustainability. It is based on a vision of the desired future conditions that integrates the ecological, socioeconomic and institutional perspectives applied in an area defined geographically as the natural boundaries of the ecosystem" 12.

A report13on the scientific basis of ecosystem management developed for the Ecological Society of America lists the following elements:

  • sustainability: intergenerational sustainability must be a precondition for management, that is, ecosystems cannot simultaneously be degraded and be given the responsibility for providing goods and services for future generations;
  • these should mirror the 'desired future trajectories' and the 'desired future behaviours';
  • emphasis on ecological processes: the role of processes and interconnections in ecosystems are central components;
  • complexity and interconnectivity: recognized as inherent components of all ecosystems, should be maintained as widely as possible;
  • recognition of the dynamic character of ecosystems: it is a question of not managing to maintain a given status, but of expecting and allowing for the transformation of ecosystems over time;
  • context and scale: as ecosystem processes operate at varying spatial and temporal scales, there is no single scale suitable for management;
  • human beings as part of the ecosystem: people must be engaged in ecosystem management as participants in the whole process;
  • adaptive management: it is important to consider the ecosystemic and socio-political dynamics involved in the management, so flexibility and re-planning are important, and monitoring of the whole process supports the evaluation of activities and the need for new strategies. It should be understood that management objectives and strategies are hypotheses to be tested by the research and management practices themselves and modified where necessary.

The Convention on Biological Diversity adopted its decision on the ecosystem approach below.

Ecosystem approach

The ecosystem approach is a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way. Application of the ecosystem approach will help to reach a balance of the three objectives of the Convention: conservation, sustainable use and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources.

The approach is based on the application of appropriate scientific methodologies focused on levels of biological organization that encompass the essential processes, functions and interactions among organisms and their environment. In it, ecosystems are considered complex socioecological systems, encompassing the interaction and overlapping of social, environmental and economic-institutional factors. Thus, for the understanding of an ecosystem, it is necessary to consider the multiple factors related to it, such as human well-being, the space time context, institutional arrangements, ecosystem services and ecological functions.

This focus on the essential structure, processes, functions and interactions is consistent with the ecosystem definition of Article 2 of the Convention: "Ecosystem" means a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit". This definition does not specify any unit or spatial scale and may refer to any functional unit on any scale. The scale of analysis and action must be determined by the question at hand; it might refer, for example, to a grain of soil, a lake, a forest, a biome or the entire biosphere. Ecosystem processes are generally non-linear, and their results often show discontinuities, which leads to surprises and uncertainties. Ecosystems thus reveal complex and dynamic natures, about which we have incomplete knowledge, requiring adaptive management based on the ecosystem approach.

Adaptive management is defined as any "form of management that encourages, when necessary, periodic changes in management objectives and protocols, in response to monitoring data and other new information” 14. The idea is therefore to learn through errors and perfect through practice. The concept of adaptive management applied to the conservation of natural ecosystems is above all consistent with the complexity of these socioecological systems, which implies the unpredictability of certain situations, in which observation indicates that the ecosystem will not follow the expected course without some management intervention. 

This approach does not exclude other approaches to management and conservation, such as biosphere reserves, protected areas and species conservation programmes, as well as other approaches that exist in national policies. Its purpose is to integrate all these approaches and other methodologies to deal with complex situations. There is no single way to implement the ecosystem approach, as it depends on local, provincial, national, regional or global conditions.

  • Principles of an ecosystem approach
  1. The objectives of land, water and natural resource management are a matter of societal choice;
  2. Management should be decentralized to the lowest level appropriate;
  3. Ecosystem managers should consider the effects (existing or potential) of their activities on neighbouring and other ecosystems;
  4. Recognize the potential benefits of management, bearing in mind that, in general, there is a need to manage the ecosystem in an economic context;
  5. Conservation of ecosystem structure and functioning, aiming at the maintenance of ecosystem services, should be a priority target of the ecosystem approach;
  6. Ecosystems must be managed within the limits of their functioning.
  7. The ecosystem approach must be adopted at the appropriate temporal and spatial scales;
  8. Recognizing the changing temporal scales and the discontinuities that characterize ecosystem processes, the objectives of ecosystem management must be established for the long term;
  9. Managers must recognize that change is inevitable;
  10. The ecosystem approach should seek the appropriate balance and integration between the conservation and use of biodiversity;
  11. The ecosystem approach should consider all forms of relevant information, including scientific knowledge and traditional and local knowledge, innovations and practices;
  12. The ecosystem approach should involve all relevant sectors of society and scientific disciplines.

Other conservationists criticize this approach and recommend the use of key species as the most appropriate management approach. Some of these criticisms can be summarized as follows 15:

  1. emphasis on ecological processes: this emphasis ends up causing situations where processes are conserved, but species are lost, such as the replacement of primary forests with less diversified secondary forests or the preservation of energy flow and nutrient cycling in ecosystems with very few species;
  2. spatial scale: since ecosystems do not have easily identifiable boundaries, and because it is difficult to assess which ecosystems are similar for the purposes of representativity, it is possible that an area of importance for conservation is left outside management strategies, or that ecosystems that are already well represented among protected areas are privileged under conservation strategies;
  3. adaptive management: critics question whether the continuous transformation of procedures and objectives effectively increases understanding of the system and question the scientific validity of this approach.

The concept of key species suggests that, at least in many ecosystems, certain species have greater impacts than others, meaning key species have a disproportionately larger ecosystem impact than their abundance would suggest. They are species that, when conserved in their natural environments, result in the maintenance of a significant number of other species of diverse taxonomic groups and in the functioning of natural systems. Thus, management of key species would combine the advantages of species management with those of ecosystem management: if the key species affects many other species in the community, protecting its reproduction and growth is a form of conservation of the other species that interact with it. The use of key species as the focus of management has in turn also been criticised, since, as well as the identification of key species being complex, the role they play is an assumption that is difficult to verify.

Management Plans

The Conservation Area management tool for used in Brazil is the management plan. This should be drawn up taking into account all the possible factors that affect the Conservation Area or are affected by it and identifying actions necessary for the full achievement of the area’s objectives169. According to the SNUC, the Management Plan is the "technical document by which, based on the overall objectives of a Conservation Area, its zoning and the norms that should govern the use of the area and the management of natural resources are established, including the implementation of the physical structures needed for the management of the area". It is, therefore, an essential tool for the effective administration of a Conservation Area, providing the guidance necessary for the fulfilment of its objectives. The plan is required by law and must be drawn up within five years of the establishment of the area. However, the challenges of developing and implementing them in Conservation Areas in Brazil are so great that some areas go for more than a decade without any planning document.

Clearly, the management plans for full protection Conservation Areas are different from those of sustainable use areas. In 2002 IBAMA, the body responsible for the management of Conservation Areas until 2007, when this responsibility was transferred to ICMBio, published a methodological roadmap for the National Park, Biological Reserve and Ecological Reserve categories aimed at guiding the preparation of management plans for full protection Conservation Areas and some sustainable use categories. In 2007, the ICMBio published its Normative Instruction No.01/2007, which regulates the guidelines, standards and procedures for the elaboration of a Participatory Management Plan for Federal Conservation Areas in the Extractive Reserve and Sustainable Development Reserve categories. This Instruction confirmed the Utilization Plan as an integral part of the Participatory Management Plan. A Utilization Plan should consist of "internal rules developed, defined and agreed by the population of the territory in respect of their traditionally practiced activities, the management of natural resources, the use and occupation of the area, and environmental conservation, in light of current legislation. It is the foundation document for signature of the Terms of Commitment between the beneficiary traditional population of the area, that will receive the concession of legal right of use, and the Chico Mendes Institute”. In 2009, it was the turn of the Methodological Roadmap for Elaboration of National Forest Management Plans to be disseminated, and in 2012, Normative Instruction No.29, which regulated at the federal level the guidelines, requirements and administrative procedures for the elaboration and approval of the Management Agreement in sustainable use Conservation Areas with traditional populations.

Then in 2015, the Methodological roadmap for the elaboration of management plans for federal Private Natural Heritage Reserves was published. In 2017, also at the federal level, Normative Instruction No. 7/2017/GABIN/ICMBIO laid down guidelines and procedures for the elaboration and revision of management plans.

However, the latest legislation regarding this is the ICMBio Ordinance No 1163 of December 2018 which approves a new methodological roadmap for the elaboration and review of management plans for federal Conservation Areas, repealing all previous versions, except for the methodological roadmap for Private Natural Heritage Reserves (RPPNs) of 2015, which continues in force.

Management plans should provide an environmental, social, economic and institutional summary of the area, as well as important programmes for its implementation and sustainability, monitoring and protection. On the other hand, the need for medium-term planning combined with flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances is also inherent in this procedure. Additionally, it is a basic assumption that the plan includes the participation, interests and well-being of the inhabitants of the region, key stakeholders in the management of the area.

Thus, in order to draw up a management plan in a democratic and participative way, one of the first steps is to identify the relevant stakeholders that strengthen the objective of the Conservation Area. In the case of Conservation Areas that acknowledge beneficiary traditional communities, such as Extractive Reserves, Sustainable Development Reserves and some Forests, these are evidently the most interested. Generally speaking, they have their own forms of representation, organizing themselves into groups or associations, but many relevant stakeholders do not have institutional structures through which to conduct their interests. Moreover, the equity of stakeholder representations is also fundamental. At the same time, other issues arise, such as the real possibilities for effective participation of the different stakeholders, given their cultural and social differences. Unfortunately, despite the regulations that govern such representativity, more challenges can always arise so, as well as adherence to the protocols, there is a need for continued transparency, respect and sensitivity by managers.

As has already been mentioned, in the case of the Extractive Reserve and Sustainable Development Reserve categories, as well as the management plans, there is also a need to prepare a Utilization Plan or a use agreement. The rules these contain should be drawn up in a participatory way, discussed with the residents and approved by the General Assembly of the Association, clearly highlighting the activities allowed and prohibited in the Conservation Area, as well as clarifying traditional practices. Respect for these usage rules will demonstrate the commitment of traditional communities to caring for their territory and resources, part of Brazil’s national socio-environmental heritage, in a sustainable way. The Management Agreement, made official in 2012 by ICMBio Normative Instruction No 29, regulates the use of natural resources and land use in Extractive Reserves and Sustainable Development Reserves and in areas used by traditional populations in National Forests, Environmental Protection Areas and Areas of Special Ecological Importance. The Agreement presupposes the environmental sustainability of the Conservation Area, the recognition of traditional territories as spaces for the social, cultural and economic reproduction of traditional populations, and recognition, valuing and respect for the socio-environmental and cultural diversity of traditional populations and their systems of organization and social representation.

Monitoring of Conservation Areas

Monitoring of conservation units and their management is needed, as protected areas face continuous threats and the biodiversity that is to be conserved is dynamic. In general, monitoring is performed to support adaptive management, improve planning and/or verify the efficiency of the area. Adaptive management is a cyclical process where information about the past feeds back and enhances the way in which management should be conducted in the future. Therefore, evaluating the effectiveness of the management activities adopted is a fundamental step. The improvement of planning ranges from evaluation of the design of the area and its connections with environments beyond its boundaries, to analysis of the programmes carried out within the area. Finally, verification of its efficiency, a growing demand of society, allows us to examine how, and if, the objectives of the area are being fulfilled and at what cost.

Monitoring of protected areas can take place on two scales and through at least two approaches. The first scale is that of the Conservation Area itself: the evaluation of a particular area. The second scale is that of the protected area system - national or regional. In this case, areas are examined as part of a system that has broader goals and complementary impacts. With regard to approaches, the first relates to management efficiency and the second, to efficiency in the conservation of biodiversity. Of course, these approaches overlap, since management aims, among other objectives, to ensure the conservation of biodiversity. Nevertheless, the indicators for these approaches should be different, since it is possible to have management that meets its pre-established goals, without necessarily ensuring the maintenance of biodiversity.

There are numerous monitoring initiatives for Conservation Areas. In Brazil, some complementary methods of monitoring and evaluating area management are used, such as Rappam (Rapid Assessment and Prioritization of Protected Areas Management). This is a method of rapid assessment aimed prioritizing Conservation Area management. Under ARPA (Amazon Region Protected Areas Program) another monitoring and evaluation tool used is the FAUC (Ferramenta de Avaliação das Unidades de Conservação), an adaptation of the Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool developed by the World Commission on Protected Areas as part of the forest initiative of the World Bank and WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature.

Recently, the System for Analysis and Monitoring of Management (SAMGe), established by the Management Monitoring and Evaluation Division of the Directorate for Creation and Management of ICMBio and formalised by Administrative Order no. 306 of 31 May 2016 has become the official tool for analysing and monitoring the management effectiveness of federal Conservation Areas. According to ICMBio 17, itself, the SAMGe is based on the relationships between resources and sums allocated to objectives, their relationship to society by means of uses, and how the institution responds to territorial management challenges. These elements determine management effectiveness, which is the fulfilment of public policy within a territorially protected area. The tool has already been used as a resource for drawing up and revising Management Plans, as well as for decision making in different sectors of the institution. Likewise, the Ministry of the Environment (MMA) has used the SAMGe as a tool for measuring the effectiveness of Conservation Area management under the umbrella of several projects, and is evaluating other ways of applying the methodology as a tool to support the allocation of resources and management efforts.

There is also the monitoring carried out by ISA, which is done from a different perspective, that of civil society, and which aggregates official information, information gathered from daily media monitoring and from other sources. Read more about our activities by clicking here.


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  1. CICONELLO, A.. Relatório Diálogos Setoriais. Participação social na Administração Pública Federal: desafios e perspectivas para a criação de uma Política Nacional de Participação. 2012. Disponível em
  2. Declaração de Bariloche, documento resultante do 2º Congresso Latino-Americano de Parques Nacionais e outras Áreas Protegidas (2007)
  3. Acordo de Durban, no 5° Congresso, realizado na África do Sul em 2003.
  4. IMAZON. Guia de Consultas Públicas para Unidades de Conservação. Disponível aqui. Acesso em março/2019.
  5. WWF. Consulta Pública e Unidade de Conservação. 2010.
  6. PALMIERI, R.; VERÍSSIMO, A. Conselhos de Unidades de Conservação: Guia sobre sua criação e funcionamento. 2009
  7. da Biodiversidade (ICMBio) 2014. Instrução Normativa Nº 9 de 05/12/2014. Disciplina as diretrizes, normas e procedimentos para formação, implementação e modificação na composição de Conselhos Gestores de Unidades de Conservação Federais.
  8. ICMBio. Relatórios de Gestão. Disponível aqui. Acesso: março/2019.
  9. PELLIN, A.; PALAZZI, G; VIEIRA M.A.S; PROTASIO, P.A. & CRUZ S.V. 2004. Conselhos de unidades de conservação federais: dificuldades para sua implementação. Trabalho apresentado no V Curso de Aperfeiçoamento em Políticas Ambientais, promovido pelo Instituto Internacional de Estudos – IIEB, Brasília mimeo. Saiba mais: Conselhos gestores de UCs federais - um guia para gestores e conselheiros, do ICMBio. 2014.
  10. SILVA, E.L. 2007. Conselhos Gestores de Unidades de Conservação: Ferramenta de Gestão Ambiental & Estímulo à Participação Cidadã. Bioma Pampa, Rio Grande do Sul.
  11. SPRUGEL, D.G. 1991. "Disturbance, equilibrium, and environmental variability: what is ‘natural’ vegetation in a changing environment?" Biological Conservation 58: 1- 8.
  12. MEFFE G.K.& C.R. CARROLL. 1997. Principles of conservation biology. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Massachusetts.
  13. CHRISTENSEN, N.L ; A. BARTUSKA; J. BROWN; S. CARPENTER; C. D'ANTONIO; R. FRANCIS; J. FRANKLIN; J. MACMAHON; R. NOSS; D. PARKSONS; C. PETERSON; M. TURNER & R. WOODMANSEE. 1996. "The report of the Ecological Society of America Committee on the scientific basis for ecosystem management". Ecological Applications 6(3): 665-691.
  14. BULLOCK, James M. et al. Restoration of ecosystem services and biodiversity: conflicts and opportunities. Trends in ecology & evolution, v. 26, n. 10, p. 541-549, 2011.
  15. SIMBERLOFF, D. 1998. "Flagships, umbrellas and keystones: is single-species management passé in the lanscape era?" Biological Conservation 83(3): 274-257.
  16. GALANTE, Maria Luiza Vicente et al. Roteiro metodológico de planejamento. Parque Nacional, Reserva Biológica, Estação Ecológica. Brasília: Ibama, 2002.
  17. ICMBio. Sistema de Análise e Monitoramento de Gestão. Disponível aqui. Acesso em janeiro/2019.
  18. INSTRUÇÃO NORMATIVA Nº 3/2017/GABIN/ICMBIO, DE 04 DE SETEMBRO DE 2017. Institui o Programa Nacional de Monitoramento da Biodiversidade do Instituto Chico Mendes.
  19. BENSUSAN, N. 7 Histórias de Paisagens e uma Biografia. Editora Mil Folhas, 2015.
  20. ICMBio. Manejo do Fogo em Áreas Protegidas.
  21. MEDEIROS, R; YOUNG, C.E.F. Contribuição das unidades de conservação brasileiras para a economia nacional. Relatório Final. Brasília: UNEP-WCMC, 2011.
  22. YOUNG, C. E. F.; MEDEIROS R. Quanto Vale o Verde: a importância econômica das Unidades de Conservação brasileiras. Editora Conservação Internacional (CI-Brasil), 2018.
  23. WWF. Cortes no orçamento da União para 2018 atingem Unidades de Conservação e combate ao desmatamento.
  24. ISA - Instituto Socioambiental. ISA lança mapa com pressões e ameaças sobre Unidades de Conservação na Amazônia Brasileira. 2015.
  25. FEARNSIDE, Philip M. Deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia: history, rates, and consequences. Conservation biology, v. 19, n. 3, p. 680-688, 2005.
  26. MMA- Ministério do Meio Ambiente. Inpe Monitora Amazônia.
  27. Sumário para Tomadores de Decisão da Plataforma Brasileira de Biodiversidade e Serviços Ecossistêmicos. Disponível aqui. (BPBES)
  28. BARBER, Christopher P. et al. Roads, deforestation, and the mitigating effect of protected areas in the Amazon. Biological conservation, v. 177, p. 203-209, 2014.
  29. ANDAM, Kwaw S. et al. Measuring the effectiveness of protected area networks in reducing deforestation. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, v. 105, n. 42, p. 16089-16094, 2008.
  30. SÁNCHEZ‐AZOFEIFA, G. Arturo et al. Protected areas and conservation of biodiversity in the tropics. Conservation Biology, v. 13, n. 2, p. 407-411, 1999.
  31. ISA. Instituto Socioambiental. Nota técnica sobre o desmatamento 2017 em TIs e UCs. São Paulo, Maio de 2018.
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  33. ASNER, G. P. et al. Condition and fate of logged forests in the Brazilian Amazon. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 103, n. 34, p. 12947-12950, 2006.
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  38. Base de Dados Espécies Exóticas Invasoras no Brasil do Instituto Hórus de Desenvolvimento e Conservação Ambiental. 2019.
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  40. RICHARDSON, D.M., HOLMES, P.M., ESLER, K.J., GALATOWITSCH, S.M., STROMBERG, J.C., KIRKMAN, S.P., PYSEK, P., HOBBS, R.J. 2007. "Riparian vegetation: degradation, alien plant invasions, and restoration prospects". Diversity and Distributions, 13, 126 – 139.
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  45. MOURA, J.I.L., CIVIDANES, F.J., SANTOS-FILHO, L.P., Valle, R.R. (2008) "Polinização do dendezeiro por besouros no Sul da Bahia". Pesquisa agropecuária brasileira, 43(3), 289 – 294.

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