Human population and socioeconomic modulators of conservation performance in 788 Amazonian and Atlantic Forest reserves

Ana Alice B. de Marques, Mauricio Schneider, Carlos A. Peres

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31 Citations (Scopus)
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Protected areas form a quintessential component of the global strategy to perpetuate tropical biodiversity within relatively undisturbed wildlands, but they are becoming increasingly isolated by rapid agricultural encroachment. Here we consider a network of 788 forest protected areas (PAs) in the world’s largest tropical country to examine the degree to which they remain intact, and their responses to multiple biophysical and socioeconomic variables potentially affecting natural habitat loss under varying contexts of rural development. PAs within the complex Brazilian National System of Conservation Units (SNUC) are broken down into two main classes—strictly protected and sustainable use. Collectively, these account for 22.6% of the forest biomes within Brazil’s national territory, primarily within the Amazon and the Atlantic Forest, but are widely variable in size, ecoregional representation, management strategy, and the degree to which they are threatened by human activities both within and outside reserve boundaries. In particular, we examine the variation in habitat conversion rates in both strictly protected and sustainable use reserves as a function of the internal and external human population density, and levels of land-use revenue in adjacent human-dominated landscapes. Our results show that PAs surrounded by heavily settled agro-pastoral landscapes face much greater challenges in retaining their natural vegetation, and that strictly protected areas are considerably less degraded than sustainable use reserves, which can rival levels of habitat degradation within adjacent 10-km buffer areas outside.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2206
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2016


  • Brazil
  • Protected areas
  • Forest biomes
  • Atlantic Forest
  • Amazon
  • Conservation performance
  • Human population density

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