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Environmental compensation as a mechanism for conservation: from methods to scenario testing based on the Brazilian New Forest Code

Grant number: 17/26684-4
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): July 01, 2018
Effective date (End): February 28, 2021
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Applied Ecology
Principal Investigator:Jean Paul Walter Metzger
Grantee:Clarice Borges Matos
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:16/17680-2 - Priority areas for Legal Reserve offsetting: research for the development of a decision making tool to enhance transparency in the implementation process of the environmental adjustment program (Programa de Regularização Ambiental - PRA) in São Paulo, AP.BTA.TEM


Environmental compensation is the last step forseen in the mitigation hierarchy, when anthropic impacts could not be avoided or minimized. Offsets, more strict compensations that seek no net loss in biodiversity, have been widely implemented in several countries lately. However, they rarely achieve all their goals, which has generated some mistrust in some sectors of society. Part of the mistrust is due to difficulties in measuring ecological equivalence between degraded and compensated areas. Currently in Brazil, the discussion on compensation was highlighted in the New Forest Code (NFC) regarding Legal Reserves (LR). Our goal is to analyse the advantages and disadvantages of environmental compensation as a conservation mechanism, proposing methods to enhance its efficiency. We will do this in three steps. The first one will comprise a literature review on the ecological equivalence metrics already developed and proposed to date; we will evaluate each and will point the way to the future research, regarding current demands. In the second, we will develop equivalence metrics, according to the demand verified in the review, focusing on similarities among areas in terms of biodiversity, ecosystem services and landscape. We will use consolidated databases for the Atlantic Forest with a clip in São Paulo state to test the metrics. These metrics will thus be used to create distinct scenarios of LR compensation for the entire Brazilian Atlantic Forest, following the possibilities available in the NFC, our last step. The results will contribute to improve compensation implementation and will underpin decision-making in real situations of LR regularization in the Atlantic Forest, which may be extrapolated to other regions of Brazil and the world.