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Guaraqueçaba EPA

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Guaraquecaba Environmental Protection Area

Guaraqueçaba Environmental Protection Area, located on the coast of the southern state of Paraná, is the largest remaining remnant of Atlantic Forest in Brazil. The UN Economic and Social Organization (UNESCO) has recognized Brazil's Atlantic Forest as one of the highest priorities for conservation and has designated it a World Biosphere Reserve. As an Environmental Protection Area (EPA), the area is designed to have natural resource use regulations and non-sustainable development restrictions. Inside the Guaraqueçaba EPA is Superagui National Park, a federal Ecological Station, and several nature preserves, such as RPPN Salto Morato, Serra do Itaqui and Cachoeira.

did you know?

The Atlantic Forest of Guaraqueçaba contains more tree diversity on a two-and-a-half-acre plot than the entire eastern seaboard of the United States.

Atlantic Forest

Brazil's Atlantic Forest © Michael Giannechini

site profile

total area protected:
774,000 acres
map of site

Brazilian Araucaria Forest, Brazilian Coastal Atlantic Forest, Mangroves

partner organization:
Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem (SPVS)

Ecological Importance

More than half Guaraqueçaba’s forest tree species and nearly three-quarters of its other plants are found nowhere else on Earth. The majority of Brazil's endangered species rely on the Atlantic Forest for their existence. Possibly the highest conservation target in Guaraqueçaba are the 15 species of globally endangered birds, including the red-tailed parrot. Guaraqueçaba is refuge for several other endangered animal and plant species, including jaguar, yellow-throated caiman, tapir, tamarin, black-faced lion, which was just recently discovered in the area, and the keystone forest species of palm. Mangrove crabs and other fish species are threatened in Guaraqueçaba due to seasonal over harvesting.


In theory the EPA restrictions should guarantee very low impacts to the environment; however the extraction of natural resources, fishing, agriculture and grazing are the principal economic sources of income for local communities and ranchers. Specific regulations concerning land use have never been developed for the protection area, so control efforts are limited and do not contain the existing threats.

Deforestation is still a reality, as well as animal trafficking, which especially affects the endangered red-tailed parrot. Buffalo ranching, introduced when a road penetrated the region in the 1970's, has caused extensive forest clearing for pastures. Unsustainable extractive activities such as logging, heart-of-palm gathering, over fishing, and hunting are eroding the resource base of Guaraqueçaba's rich forests. Highway improvements, anticipated in the near future, risk bringing uncontrolled tourism and recreational development.

A Strategy of Success

Parks in Peril (PIP) efforts in Guaraqueçaba began in 1998 and were focused on establishing lasting partnerships and political relations to ensure the effectiveness and permanence of the conservation actions. PIP funding, which was unique to the area because it focused on the entire EPA, began improving basic infrastructure, staff training, mapping and GIS, addressing and monitoring threats, empowering local stakeholders, and long-term financial planning.

The EPA was able to hire more personnel and long awaited improvements to the EPA road entrance were finally made. Control agents received training in legal matters, management of endangered wildlife, and GIS. With these improvements, the number of illegal second homes decreased, some even destroyed, and a sustainable buffalo ranching model was established.

Environmental education training was provided to hundreds of school teachers in and around the EPA communities, this work was able to continue after PIP through funding from the State Environmental Fund. Environmental activities for students in the area focused on saving the red-tailed parrot and was spread among communities and reached over 500 students.

PIP funding was also very instrumental in creating a network of private reserves to launch the first climate action project in the Atlantic Forest, which enabled partner organization Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem (SPVS) to create a fully staffed 7,000 hectare reserve in the center of the EPA.

Along with all of the benefits to the EPA, PIP helped SPVS develop a self-sufficiency strategy and obtain funding for future conservation activities. PIP was able to play a crucial role in the evolution of Guaraqueçaba from a “paper park” into a consolidated conservation area, well-known in the country and with much more data for future conservation

Read more about Guaraqueçaba...

Sociedade de Pesquisa em Vida Selvagem (SPVS)
The Nature Conservancy in the Atlantic Forest
Online Field Guide to the Atlantic Forest
Article: Brazil's Atlantic Forest Rises from the Ashes

Read more about projects in Brazil...

Brazil Partner Organizations

The Nature Conservancy in Brasil