The Atlantic Rainforest has received human intervention for more than 500 years. Before the arrival of the Portuguese, the biome covered an estimated 1.3 million km2, about 15% of Brazilian territory and occupying almost the entire coastal area. The depletion of the Atlantic Rainforest started with the exploitation of Pau-brasil, already in the pre-colonial period. Afterwards, sugarcane plantations were introduced and remain until today. In the last century, with growing urban population and industrialization, the pressure on the regions´ natural resources continued very intense.
According the data of the Atlas dos Remanescentes da Mata Atlântica (2014), the Atlantic Rainforest lost 18,509 km2 over the last 28 years, remaining 12.5% of remnants with more than 3 ha and only 8.5% of remnants with more than 100 ha. During the period 2012-2013 deforestation occurred in about 239 km2, a 9% increase comparing to the period 2011-2012.
Despite a history of intense deforestation, at present, the Atlantic Rainforest is the shelter for about 20,000 plant species with extreme importance on global level, as many are endemic and/or endangered.
The Atlantic Rainforest richness provides important environmental services that benefit directly and indirectly about 120 million people in a region that represents 70% of GDP. Some of the most significant functions are protection of water catchments, soil fertility, climate stability, protection of mountain slopes, landscapes and historical and cultural values.
The new Forest Code (Law 12.651/2012) installed the CAR1 (Cadastro Ambiental Rural – Rural Environmental Register) in order to promote environmental compliance of farms and rural estates in the country. This register is a means of control, monitoring and combat deforestation and promotes environmental and productive planning.
The majority of rural settlements in the Atlantic Rainforest biome of Pernambuco have severe environmental liabilities. In many cases, the estate had already these liabilities before the agrarian reform process which were transferred to the settlers. Among these are the register of the Legal Reserve and the protection/restoration of permanent preservation areas.
The areas to be protected, very often, are being used for agriculture or pasture and even junk yards, diminishing the forest cover and contaminating soil and groundwater, provoking erosion, pollution and sedimentation of water ways.
In addition, population has low environmental awareness. Irrational exploitation of natural resources is a historical problem and has been transmitted over generations.
This project aims to restore permanent protection areas (APP) and Legal Reserves in rural settlements in the northern Pernambuco Atlantic Rainforest Zone in order to minimize environmental impacts. To guarantee post-project activities, environmental education will be carried out to increase local people´s awareness on the importance of environmental conservation for local quality of life.
1 A mandatory online register for all farms and rural estates that integrates environmental information regarding permanent protection areas (APP), Legal Reserves, forests and natural vegetation remnants, areas of restricted uses and agriculture and pasture lands.