Brazil Values its Environment at US$2 Billion

BRASILIA, Brazil, September 12, 2000 (ENS) - A new government survey of Brazil's natural resources has found that Brazil accounts for 10 percent of the entire environmental heritage of the world.

According to the Brazilian Institute for Environment and Renowable Resources (IBAMA), the national authority responsible for environment, the monetary value of those resources is US$2.072 billion.

The figure was released yesterday, following an assessment carried out by the Project on Environmental Accountability, a function of IBAMA.


A small settlement in the vast wetland of the Brazilian Pantanal (Photo courtesy Web Guide to Brazil)
The estimate covered the ecosystems that contain the greatest concentration of biodiversity in the country: the Amazonia, Cerrado, Caatinga, and Coastal areas, Mata Atlantica, Mata de Araucarias, Area das Pampas, the giant wetlands of the Pantanal Mato-Grossense, plus other island ecosystems.

Natural resources are increasingly being assigned a monetary value by economists as a way to integrate environmental accounting into traditional accounting systems.

With this study, the Brazilian government intends to improve its position in international environmental forums. It is important to allow green accountability to integrate ecology with economic development in a way that balances principles and profits, the survey said.

Brazilian authorities see the survey as a way to profit from investments by companies looking for ways to turn the country's biodiversity into marketable products as Costa Rica has done with pharmaceutical companies seeking to develop drugs from rainforest resources.


Mata Atlantica rainforest on the Atlantic coast of Brazil (Photo courtesy Salve Floresta)
In Brazil, the pharmaceutical industry exploits native plants and microorganisms, but the country gets no profits from such natural wealth. Now that this survey is complete, the national authorities will be able to calculate compensations for damages caused to the Brazilian environment by resource extraction.

IBAMA undertook this survey as part of the Compendium initiative to compile a comprehensive and up to date information base of sustainable development indicator initiatives. The Compendium database is being coordinated by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the World Bank and the Indicators and Assessment Office of Environment Canada.

The online Compendium aims to be the primary source of information on integrated socio-economic and environmental performance measurement.