Protected areas play a key role in the global solution to climate change, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The warming of the climate system, evidenced by rising global temperatures, melting glaciers and rising sea levels, points to the urgent need for effective action.
The increase in temperature is directly related to the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the result of human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Protected areas, both private and public or mixed, legally established for biodiversity conservation, play a crucial role in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Aerial view of Pacuare Reserve. Photo: Marco Ávalos
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stresses the importance of adaptation, defined as adjustments in natural or human systems to mitigate damages or take advantage of climate opportunities.
In the context of protected areas, sinks, processes that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, are identified. As part of a natural cycle, many ecosystems such as coral reefs, marshes and mangroves constantly capture and store CO2.
Two main mitigation strategies are CO2 storage and CO2 capture. Storage consists of preventing carbon fixed in vegetation and soil from escaping into the atmosphere through forest conservation, while capture seeks to actively fix carbon dioxide and can be achieved through the restoration of degraded ecosystems.
Pacuare Reserve Forest
Protected areas not only safeguard biodiversity, but also provide crucial ecosystem services. From the provision of water sources to climate regulation, these areas play an irreplaceable role in flood mitigation, landslide prevention and carbon dioxide absorption. In addition, these areas act as natural barriers, reducing the vulnerability of local communities to extreme weather events.
In this line, Pacuare Reserve has protected wetlands (capable of filtering large amounts of rain water, preventing flooding in nearby communities) and restored 688.7 hectares of secondary forest on land previously dedicated to cattle ranching, in an area that is currently surrounded by monocultures, contributing significantly to biodiversity conservation. Operating with a 100% sustainable energy model through solar panels, the reserve protects kilometers of beach and forest, providing a sustainable environment for wildlife, capable of fixing carbon dioxide.
Pacuare Reserve has carried out a reforestation program, planting +5K native trees, including the mountain almond tree crucial to the green macaw. In addition to recording weather data, the reserve is actively addressing the impacts of climate change, protecting species such as sea turtles and studying the effects of microplastics.
Weather station at Pacuare Reserve
In its environmental education programs, Pacuare Reserve highlights the importance of conserving nature, addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and raising awareness among communities about the connection between climate change and environmental preservation.
Protected areas, such as Pacuare Reserve, are not only guardians of biodiversity, but also allies in the fight against climate change, providing tangible solutions to mitigate and adapt to current climate challenges.