Wetlands for the Future assists Brazil's coral mapping


Studies on Brazilian coral reefs: training and application of remote sensing techniques

The Brazilian Ministry of the Environment published recently the "Atlas of Coral Reef Protected Areas in Brazil" - Atlas dos Recifes de Coral nas Unidades de Conservação Brasileiras, in partnership with the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Natural Renewable Resources (IBAMA), and the Coastal Reefs Project. Financing from the Ramsar Convention's Wetlands for the Future Fund (WFF/00-2BRA/2) was instrumental in the data acquisition for the project.

Fourteen managers and technical personnel from the different coastal protected areas in Brazil were trained in remote sensing techniques at the National Space Research Institute. The students worked with SPOT, Landsat TM and ETM+ satellite images and the SPRING software to produce accurate maps showing the different ecosystems in the coral reef protected areas in Brazil. Thirty-nine maps of nine protected areas were included and are already being used to provide inputs for developing/updating management plans.

Brazilian coral reefs are distributed in a non-continual narrow band along approximately 3,000 km of the Atlantic coastline, from the State of Maranhão to the State of Bahia. Though not as diverse as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Brazilian reefs have eight endemic species of corals. Protected areas cover only a relatively short span of the coastline, including the Ramsar Site Parque Estadual Marinho do Parcel do Manoel Luiz.

With this project, the country significantly increased its knowledge of its coral reef ecosystems, yet the challenge remains to map the areas which have not been designated as protected areas. Further information may be requested to Ana Paula Leite Prates, Ministério do Meio Ambiente - ana-paula.prates@mma.gov.br

-- reported by Iván Dario Valencia, Ramsar

(below) Aerial view and habitat classification map of the "Environmental Protection Area of Costa dos Corais"- "Área de Proteção Ambiental Costa dos Corais", Alagoas and Pernambuco States. Red areas depict intertidal reefs; orange: submerged reefs; brown: sandbanks; dark blue: pools; yellow: sand over reefs.

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