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State Environmental Agency - IEMA

contact: Michele de Sá Dechoum, Manager of Natural Resources mdechoum@iema.es.gov.br


Photo Palê Zuppani

Paulo Cesar Vinha State Park covers 1,500 hectares and is part of the Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve in Espirito Santo. It was the first protected area in the state to create an Action Plan for the control of invasive alien species. Located in Guarapari, on the coast, it protects sand dune formations, lowland atlantic forests and wetlands.

The work started in March, 2007, with training provided by the Horus Institute to protected area managers, involving field practice that received press coverage at the national level.

A listserver on biological invasions was implemented in the state as a support tool. Protected area managers at all levels participate in discussions. All protected area managers filled out spreadsheets with data on invasive alien species as a base for the action plans, which are being incorporated in existing management plans and implemented in the short term. The data collected in protected areas was incorporated in the national I3N invasive alien species database maintained by the Horus Institute and The Nature Conservancy.

Paulo Cesar Vinha and Itaunas State Parks

Twenty invasive alien species were recorded in the Paulo Cesar Vinha State Park during a survey carried out in 2006/2007 with the Federal University of Espirito Santo.

The main invasive alien species that threaten the park biodiversity are acacia (Acacia mangium), molasses grass (Melinis minutiflora), kikuyu grass (Brachiaria humidicola), brachiaria (Brachiaria decumbens) and guinea grass (Panicum maximum). Giant false agave (Furcraea gigantea) also has high invasive potential as it reproduces through gems which are wind dispersed.

The removal and control of all invasive alien species will be carried out by staff of the State Environmental Agency (IEMA) with support from a private road manager of Rodovia do Sol - RODOSOL. The Normative Instruction IEMA 003/07, published in February, 2007, provides legal background for these activities, in accord with the Federal Law 9985/00, which establishes the National Protected Area System.

Itaunas State Park, located on the Northern Coast of Espirito Santo, also has an action plan already under implementation.

Dunes at Cesar Vinha Park


Photos Palê Zuppani

Opportunistic species

Some species of uncertain origin and suspected to be native of Brazil, such as the hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa) and brackenfern (Pteridium arachnoideum), receive different treatment although they seem to invade some of the habitats in these parks.

Native species which, due to disturbance, increase their area of distribution are named opportunistic species and are subjected to management tests to help define best control practices. If biodiversity in these occupied areas increases, management continues. If biodiversity does not increas, other hypotheses are tested. But these opportunistic species are never aimed for eradication like alien species. The issue here is to find ways of getting the environment back to its natural balance.

Invasive alien species in Espirito Santo state

Some of the invasive alien species under control in the state are:

Acacia - Acacia mangium

Native to Australia, it was introduced to Brazil by the forestry industry. It has become a serious problem in several states in Brazil because it is an aggressive invader along the coast in Espirito Santo as well as in the grasslands of Roraima, in the Amazon region.
Giant false agave - Furcraea gigantea

Native to Central and South America, it was introduced in Brazil in the ornamental plant trade. It invades coastal habitats and sand dune formations, as well as clearings in forests.

Tropical almond - Terminalia catappa

Native to Malaysia, it was introduced as an ornamental tree for shade and is very common in the Brazilian beaches. Invades natural habitats in sandy areas along the coast.

Management of the State Parks

Clearing invasive species is now a part of the routine in the management of protected areas in Espirito Santo. Many plants sprout after being cut and there is always seed in the soil that germinates after control actions, so it is crucial to keep up a monitoring system to repeat control actions and ensure there is no reinvasion.

Grasses are often more difficult to eradicate and require controle work in the long term.

If you visit the parks in the state of Espirito Santo and see field staff working with chainsaws to remove plants, be aware that this is part of environmental management and that these actions are essential for the conservation of biodiversity.

How you can help

Do not cultivate invasive alien plants. See the list of species already registered as invasive in Brazil.
Never release pets in natural areas. They can impact natural populations of animals and plants.
Help disseminate information on invasive alien species.