On World Wetlands Day, Recognition for Abrolhos Marine National Park

© CI/photo by Sterling Zumbrunn

Today, as we celebrate World Wetlands Day, we are very happy to share the news that the Abrolhos Marine National Park—a critical protected area for biodiversity conservation on the northeastern coast of Brazil—was designated a Ramsar site, joining the global list of Wetlands of International Importance.

World Wetlands Day marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. The so-called ‘Ramsar Convention’ is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies the commitments of 159 member countries to maintain the ecological character of their wetlands and to plan for their sustainable use. There are 1,886 Ramsar sites already designated, with a total surface area of more than 185 million hectares (457 million acres).

The Abrolhos park contains 88,250 hectares (more than 218,000 acres) within an area that contains the highest marine biodiversity in the Southern Atlantic, including complex and unique ecosystems that range from highly endemic coral reefs to extensive areas of well-preserved mangroves. The park’s coral reefs are a safe place for the growth and reproduction for many marine species, especially commercially important fish.

In spite of its social, economic and environmental diversity and importance, the long-term protection of the Abrolhos region still faces huge threats, such as illegal and over-fishing, shrimp farming, exploitation of oil and natural gas near protected areas and sedimentation from coastal deforestation. Nevertheless, we are positive that the park’s new designation as a Ramsar site is a key step that will help CI, partner organizations and local communities call attention to this critical region, attracting the investments and conservation agreements necessary to enlarge the protected area and safeguard the livelihoods of hundreds of communities reliant on local fisheries.

CI-Brazil’s marine and environmental policy teams are proud of our contribution to the park’s Ramsar designation, having offered science-based data to support the site’s nomination. The Abrolhos Marine National Park is the 11th Ramsar site in Brazil and the second one supported by CI in the country. Last May, we were glad to announce that the private reserve Fazenda Rio Negro (Rio Negro Lodge), an official protected area owned by CI-Brazil in the vast Pantanal—considered the world’s largest wetland—in central western Brazil, was also designated a Ramsar site.

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