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jan 16, 2017

Brazil's National Park “Pau-Brasil” becomes global reference for ecotourism

Established 17 years ago in the northeastern state of Bahia, Brazil’s National “Pau-Brasil” Park was even named a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The park features 10 hiking trails, many of which are wheelchair accessible, with marvelous looking posts, a river and waterfall. The park covers 19,000 hectares total.

 

Visitors can enjoy the great diversity of plants specific to the Atlantic rainforest. One particular plant is the “Pau-Brasil” tree, after which Brazil gets its name. Over the centuries, the “Pau-Brasil” tree has become more and more scarce In the park, visitors can see trees that are over 800 years old and measure up to 35 meters high. 

 

The national park is located about 723km from the state capital of Salvador. Visitors can stay in hotels and lodges in the surrounding city of Porto Seguro, itself a tourist destination for its beautiful coastline and for being known as the first place the Portuguese stepped foot in Brazil. The park was opened in October 2016 to visitors, who must sign up with the park administration to schedule their visit, and due to issues of nature preservation, can only enter via 4x4 vehicles.

 

The park is also home to 225 bird species, many of which face extinction. These endangered species include the Black Hawk eagle (spizaetus tyrannus) and the solitary tinamou (tinamus solitarius), a rare paleognath ground bird, both local to the area. The park also hosts 12 Psittacidae species, including the Red-browed Amazon (Amazona rhodocorytha). For big animal lovers that are not easily afraid, the park also hosts pumas and tapirs.

 

The establishment of the national park is an important step in protecting the biodiversity of the land from human intrusion and encouraging sustainable development. In addition to building a structure for tourist activities, such as the building of trails, signposts, and lookout stations, the state has also conducted detailed scientific research in the region.

 

Prior to its opening to the public last year, the Brazilian government ramped up its investment in the national park through a partnership with the Inernational Conservation (Conservação Internacional CI-Brasil) and the local Private Nature Heritage Reserve (Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural Rio Do Brasil RPPN).

 

At the park’s opening ceremony, CI-Brasil also launched a nature conservation fund, called Fundo Abrolhos Terra e Mar. The financial fund focuses on supporting seven federal conservation sites in the region: the “Pau-Brasil” park, Monte Pascoal, the Vida Sylvester de Rio dos Frades refuge, and more. So far, the conservation fund has received $2.1 million from the Global Conservation Fund (GCF), which will be used in towards the preservation of these areas for public use, tourism, and environmental research and education.

 

The “Pau-Brasil” national park is administered under the Chico Mendes Biodiversity Conservation Institute (ICMBio).