Budget for Caatinga protection is irregular and has been declining, shows study
The budget assigned for the Federal Conservation Units (FCUs) of the Caatinga can be one of the main causes of its low effectiveness. This is what shows an article published recently by Ana Paula Oliveira and Enrico Bernard in the scientific journal Biotropica. According to the authors, the budgets for 20 CUs of the Caatinga between 2008 and 2014 are irregular and have been decreasing, following a national trend of cuts since the year 2012.
One of the main challenges is the irregularity of funds provided by the Ministry of the Environment (ME) for each unit over the years. The budget for a single FUC ranged from $104,000 in one year to $17,000 the following year. This large variation indicates a lack of standardization and budget planning by the Brazilian federal government, which hinders the establishment of long-term policies and decreases the effectiveness of protection by FCUs.
Another bottleneck faced by management is the low availability of resources. The study by Oliveira and Bernard points out that the budget for the 20 FCUs of the Caatinga were about 13 times lower than the minimum value indicated by the ME for the basic operation of a conservation unit in Brazil. The Ministry itself has suffered cuts, having received the lowest budget in history in 2015. The trend is reflected in its management bodies, such as the ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation), an autarchy responsible for the administration of the federal PAs in the country.
Despite having one of the largest protected area systems in the world, there is little spending with conservation in Brazil. We are spending about five times less than the average in Latin America and up to 72 times less than Europe. Excluding land regularization costs, the 20 Protected Areas received an average of only $0.50 per hectare each year. In addition, ICMBio's biggest expense for the Caatinga FCUs was with the custody of the offices. That is, the funds were not allocated for biodiversity conservation per se, but for patrimonial surveillance of offices, cars and equipment.
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