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Brazil's São Paulo state gets $162.5 million IDB loan for Mata Atlantica conservation

Brazil’s São Paulo state will get a $162.5 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to finance the conservation, sustainable use and socio-environmental recovery of its Atlantic forest, one of the planet’s most threatened biotic systems. Only 7.5 percent of the Atlantic forest remains in Brazil.

The loan will support a state program to promote the conservation and restoration of the Serra do Mar State Park, the Juréia-Itatins Ecological Station, and marine and coastal conservation units and their surroundings.

Created in 1977 and covering an area of 315,000 hectares, the Serra do Mar State Park is the largest continuum of protected Atlantic Forest in Brazil. The park is home to half the bird species of the forest and 20 percent of Brazil’s bird species. Juréia-Itatins protects large expanses of forest, which are vital for the flow of genetic material between ecosystems within the state and between the Atlantic Forests of Rio de Janeiro and Parana states.

The conservation of the Atlantic forest is expected to improve carbon retention, provide better local and regional climate regulation; stabilize rainfall periods and improve the retention of rainwater run-off; as well as protect tree species that are crucial for the survival of the biome.

The program will restore areas that have been degraded by illegal occupation and other associated factors; create  a botanical garden; and improve management of the park and other conservation areas. It will also relocate poor families from the riskiest areas to urban zones agreed with the resettled populations as well as upgrade monitoring and inspection systems of the areas under conservation.

The project is expected to restore degraded areas in Serra do Mar State Park in the municipality of Cubatão as well as clean hundreds of hectares from non-native plant and animal species. The program will improve urban hubs for 2,400 families and resettle 8,150 families currently living in unregulated or illegal settlements in the Serra do Mar State Park. These families, who currently live in high geo-technical risk areas, will be provided with new housing within the same municipality –an important factor given that practically all are employed in industrial and commercial enterprises nearby.

In the Juréia-Itatins Ecological Station, the program will build infrastructure for protection and basic public use and regularize land tenure.

The 25-year loan, denominated in U.S. dollars, has four-year grace and disbursement periods and a Libor-based interest rate. The IDB loan will cover 34.5 percent of the cost of the project while the state will cover the remaining 65.5 percent.