Private protected areas: Salto Morato Natural Heritage Private Reserve (component of Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves World Heritage Site, Brazil)

Marina Cracco

Private governance comprises protected areas under individual, NGO or corporate control and ownership (Borrini-Feyerabend, 2013). In addition to nature conservation benefits, privately owned protected areas can provide other important benefits, such as tourism and recreation, education and knowledge building.

Location and World Heritage designation

Salto Morato Natural Heritage Private Reserve (SMNHPR[1]) shelters a 2,253 hectare-area of Atlantic Forest in Guaraqueçaba, state of Paraná, in Brazil (FGBPN, 2012). 1,716 hectares of SMNHPR are part of the 470,000 hectares large serial[2] Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves World Heritage Site. The entire World Heritage property is composed of 25 protected areas of different designations ranging from a private reserve, several state parks to national parks. SMNHPR was established in 1994 and open to the public in 1996 (FGBPN, 2011; FGBPN, 2011b). The Atlantic Forest South-East Reserves, including SMNHPR, was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1999 under natural criteria (vii), (ix) and (x) (WHC, 2014). The main ecosystem in the area is the Atlantic Forest. SMNHPR is home to 650 species of plants, 58 mammals, 384 birds, 34 reptiles, 61 amphibians, and 55 fish species (FGBPN, 2011, FGBPN, 2011b).

Main ecosystem services provided by the site


The main ecosystem services that the site provides include regulating services (carbon sequestration and storage, local climate and air quality regulation, erosion prevention and soil fertility maintenance, water conservation and water regulation), supporting services (habitat for species, maintenance of genetic diversity), and cultural services (recreational and mental and physical health through its landscape, aesthetics and cultural appreciation, spiritual experience, and knowledge). The unique biodiversity of the area makes the site a hotspot for scientific research. In addition, the reserve is important for nature-based tourism at local and national level.


Salto Morato NHPR is one of the positive examples of developing scientific research in Brazil through partnership towards nature conservation (Cegana, 2005). Over 86 scientific studies have been completed in SMNHPR since 1996 (FGBPN, 2011). The reserve also hosts a meteorological station to record climatic data every 15 minutes and a research laboratory.

The reserve receives between 4,000 to 8,000 visitors per year (over 8,000 in 2012, 4,500 in 2011) in addition to researchers (FGBPN, 2011; FGBPN 2011b). Ecotourism services include access to

[1] RPPN for its acronym in Portuguese: Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural

[2] "A serial nomination is any nomination which consists of two or more unconnected areas. A single World Heritage nomination may contain a series of cultural and/or natural properties in different geographical locations, provided that they are related" (

interpretative trails for walks, bird watching, etc. In 2011, the majority (39%) of tourist were from the capital of the State and (34%) within the local municipality (FGBPN, 2011b and 2012).

Governance and management system


Salto Morato NHPR is a private reserve owned by the Boticário Group Foundation created by Group Boticario, a Brazilian Cosmetic Company. The reserve was created to complement both public and private efforts in the effective conservation of threatened species and ecosystems in the Atlantic Forest. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) was the partner in obtaining the area (FGBPN, 2011).


In Brazil, Natural Heritage Private Reserves belong to the category of sustainable use protected areas, or conservation units, and are established in perpetuity and voluntarily by the landowner. The owner is requested to include signage in and outside the area, ban hunting, fishing and capture of animals, clearing of forests and fires in addition to other activities detrimental to the environment. The owner is also required to develop and follow a management plan and to present periodic reports with help of the institution in charge of the environment at the federal/national level (IBAMA), other environment institutions at the state level and NGOs. Fines are assigned by the authorities when obligations are not met (Wiedmann, 1997 in Cegana 2005). Within this type of reserves, the activities allowed include scientific research, tourism and recreation and environmental education as established in the management plan and legislation (ICMBio/MMA, 2012; Case Study in Borrini-Feyerabend, 2013). The environmental police at the state level responds to complaints from owners of NHPRs in cases of illegal hunting, etc. in their property. In the case of SMNHPR, an environmental police unit is hosted within the property. In addition, support in protected area management, from the National Confederation of NHPRs (CNRPPN) is given to those voluntarily registered (


Private reserves, among other governance types, can provide benefits and conservation at little cost to society (Hayes, 2006; SCBD, 2010, Kothari et al., 2012 In Borrini-Feyeraben, 2013) and can serve as instruments to complement and strengthen the public system (Mesquita, 2004 in Teixeira and Silva, 2011). In many areas population growth and increasing demand for resources and environmental services coupled with scarce financial resources available for nature conservation are limiting the establishment of public protected areas (McNeely, 1984 in Teixeira and Silva, 2011) increasing the importance of the private sector in biodiversity conservation (Mesquita, 2004 in Teixeira and Silva 2011). In addition to nature conservation benefits, privately owned protected areas provide other important benefits, such as tourism and recreation, education and knowledge building.