Recent amendments to Brazilian Forest Code (BFC) threatens the country’s status as the second largest mangrove area in the world (1). Contrary to major scientific advisory (2–18) and public opinion (19), government made legal for shrimp farmers and salt producers to convert tidal wetland ecosystems into ponds. Changes are being encouraged throughout the country considering BFC is a Federal regulation and applies nationally. In the Amazon biome (which comprises the coasts of the States of Amapá, Pará and Maranhão), where 60% of Brazilian mangroves are located(20), 10% of these systems can be converted. Along the rest of the shoreline, 35% can be converted. Additionally, this regulation also assures amnesty to transgressors that occupied these areas until July 22, 2008.
Assessments made prior to the consolidation of shrimp farming industry in Brazil revealed that the country had already had lost 50,000 ha between the years of 1985 and 2000 due to diverse causes(21). Nevertheless, it is estimated that shrimp farming industry alone is responsible for the conversion of another 50,000 ha of the country’s tidal wetland ecosystems into ponds (22, 23), mainly on salt flats (24).
Despite the increasing growth rate of shrimp farming in Brazil during the past decade (from 7,000 to 90,000 tonnes per year production), its CO2 emissions — resulting from both land conversion and shrimp production — have not been included in Brazil’s emission statistics (2, 25), thereby underestimating the country’s share in the responsibility of climate change mitigation.
Salt flat conversions outlined in the BFC could lead to staggering mangrove losses and hugely increase CO2 emissions, considering that these systems possibly store an equivalent to roughly 2.5 times annual global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (26). Considering only shrimp farms that have already been installed in the country, these land conversions correspond to 1.5% of all Brazilian marine wetlands, or only 0.03% of the national territory; however, they alone account for 1% of the total Brazilian yearly CO2 emissions (2, 27).
Considering Brazil’s mangrove coverage, which makes it a critical player on the mitigation of the CO2 effects and climate change stabilization, we ask for international support to help in reversing this horrible political decision. Join us by exerting any type of pressure, either by divulgating this absurd decision or by writing straight to our government representatives (contact info attached).
Thank you very much.
Coalition to save Brazilian wetlands
President of Brasil January 16,2013
Palácio do Planalto
Praça dos Três Poderes, Palácio do Planalto, Anexo I, Ala B, sala 107
Dear Honorable President Rousseff,
I wish to draw your attention to a dangerous revision to your country’s coastal regulations that are troubling me now. Recent amendments to Brazilian Forest Code (BFC) threaten your country’s mangrove forests and will, if implemented, adversely affect the status of Brazil as the second largest mangrove area in the world. Because of this ill-conceived amendment, I am very concerned for the future of all of Brazil’s coastal wetlands, including the mangroves and their associated inter-tidal wetland areas- the mud flats and salt flats, sea grass beds and coral reefs.
Assessments made prior to the consolidation of shrimp farming industry in Brazil revealed that the country had already lost 50,000 ha between the years of 1985 and 2000 due to diverse causes. Nevertheless, it is estimated that shrimp farming industry alone is responsible for the conversion of another 50,000 ha of the country’s tidal wetland ecosystems into ponds, mainly on salt flats, which will be the last refuge for the mangroves to colonize as the sea level rises as is now occurring at a much moré rapid rate than earlier predicted. Loss of these intertidal areas to expanding shrimp farm development will mean loss of future mangroves that would otherwise have colonized those same sites.
For the sake of combating climate change and restoring your country’s coastal wetlands and wild fisheries, I ask that you please reconsider this troubling amendment and act now to reverse this earlier decision.
For the Mangroves And the Mangrove Communities!
Mangrove Action Project
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2. P. R. Pagliosa, A. S. Rovai, A. L. Fonseca, Carbon mismanagement in Brazil, Nature Climate Change 2, 764–764 (2012).
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C. Coelho-Jr, Protecting Brazil’s coastal wetlands, Science 335,
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Almeida, in Código Florestal e a Ciência: o que nossos legisladores
ainda precisam saber, (Comitê Brasil em Defesa das Florestas e do
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B. Haddad, The review of the Brazilian Forest Act: harmful effects on
amphibian conservation, Biota Neotropica 10, 35–38 (2010).
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in the Brazilian Forest Code on birds, Biota Neotropica 10, 43–46
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changes in the Forest Law in relation to water resources, Biota
Neotropica 10, 67–76 (2010).
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impacts of changes to Brazilian Forest Code in campos rupestres and
campos de altitude, Biota 10, 239–246 (2010).
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C. Nogueira, M. Martins, R. J. Sawaya, Potential impacts of changes in
the Brazilian Forest Code on reptiles, Biota Neotropica 10, 39–42
17. M. Galleti et al., Forest legislative changes and their
impacts on mammal ecology and diversity in Brazil, Biota Neotropica 10,
18. P. H. S. Brancalion, R. R. Rodrigues, Agricultural
land reduction due to the compliance with the current Forest Code: a
study case of sugarcane production in the State of São Paulo, Biota
Neotropica 10, 63–66 (2010).
19. Datafolha, What Brazilians think
about the “new” Forest Law proposal, (Brasília,
P. W. M. Souza-Filho, Costa de manguezais de macromaré da Amazônia:
cenários morfológicos, mapeamento e quantificação de áreas usando dados
de sensores remotos, Revista Brasileira de Geofísica 23, 427–435 (2005).
21. FAO, The world’s mangroves 1980-2005 (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, Rome, 2007), p. 77.
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de Sensoriamento Remoto, (INPE, Florianópolis, SC, 2007), pp. 851–857.
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Brasil A. P. L. . Prates, M. A. Gonçalves, M. R. Rosa, Eds.
(MMA/SBF/GBA, Brasília DF, ed. 1st, 2010), p. 148.
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do Brasil à Convenção-Quadro das Nações Unidas sobre mudança do clima
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Info about Presidency of Brazil
President: Dilma Rousseff
Address: Palácio do Planalto
Praça dos Três Poderes, Palácio do Planalto, Anexo I, Ala B, sala 107
Phone: +55 61 3411.1200
+55 61 3411.1201
Fax: +55 61 3411.2222
Electronic messages can also be sent at:
Box – What mangroves, salt flats and sea level have in common?
Contrary to earlier forecasts, sea levels are rising 60%) faster than predicted, showing once again that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is far from alarmist, but in fact has under-estimated the problem of climate change (25). Mangroves, salt marshes, salt flats and mud flats are typical elements found in the tidal wetland ecosystems throughout the world. One area may fluctuate between these “states” over space and time depending on sea level oscillations. Evidences on salt flats colonization by mangrove tree species has been continually reported by Scientists worldwide (26–31). In this scenario, salt flats will sustain future mangrove communities.