Brazil is a country of exquisite beauty and natural abundance. In fact, the Amazon Rainforest alone is home to more plant- and animal species than any other single area in the world.
As such, there are a number of reserves, parks and protected areas throughout the country that offer locals and tourists fantastic retreats in which to enjoy the natural splendour of Brazil.
There are seven main categories of protected areas in Brazil:
1. An Area of Environmental Protection
This is a large area with a great population density. It boasts a variety of living, non-living, aesthetic and / or cultural elements and requires protection from damage or demise.
2. A Wildlife Sanctuary
As its name implies, this type of facility is designed to protect the environment and its residents so that the natural species can be rehabilitated
3. A Biological Reserve
These areas discourage or do not allow direct human contact. Rather, all of the natural life within its borders is protected. Initiatives are undertaken to restore the natural ecosystems once in place and to regain balance and biodiversity.
4. An Ecological Station
This type of area is specifically designed to host scientific research activities and to protect the natural residents therein.
5. A National Park
National parks are areas of beauty and attraction to those around them. They are in place to protect a community of fauna and flora within a certain area. However, they are also in place for scientific research and to allow recreational activities and tourism to occur.
6. An Area of Considerable Ecological Interest
These areas are usually rather small, but home to some exceptional natural feature(s). These features would add value to the area for their natural uses, beauty or rarity.
7. A Sustainable Development Reserve
These areas home traditional populations who rely on the sustainability and availability of the natural resources. These communities become essential to the survival of the fauna and flora of the reserve.
Brazil boasts an impressive array of these areas or reserves. In fact, the national territory is characterised by:
• 2.6% being strictly protected
• 5.5% being reserved for sustainable development
This means that a total of approximately 67 million hectares of Brazil are under some sort of conservation, whether managed by the government or other external organisations.
Some of the best known parks, reserves and protected areas in Brazil include:
• Parque Nacional da Lagoa do Peixe – a coastal plain that boasts woods and wetlands, as well as an extensive lagoon.
• Reserva da Biosfera da Mata Atlântica – a set portion of the Atlantic Forest, this biosphere covers about 35 million hectares.
• Serra da Bocaina – this is a national park in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
• Mata de Santa Genebra – a piece of the Atlantic Forest in urban Brazil, this is situated in São Paulo.
• Aracuri-Esmeralda – this is an ecological station in Rio Grande do Sul.
• Poço das Antas – this biological reserve in Rio de Janeiro is home to an intriguing array of animals, which delight young and old alike.
• Cairuçu, Guapi-Mirim and Petrópolis are all Areas of Environmental Protection in and around Rio de Janeiro.