Brazil Coastal Assessments


Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment National,Sub-national,Set of sites,Single site
Country or countries covered Brazil
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

See "Additional relevant information".

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

  • To evaluate the contribution to the welfare of human beings of Coastal goods and services: (Production Services: Food, Mineral and not Mineral Resources; Regulating services: Climate regulation; Prevention of floods and storms; Purification of effluents: self-purification capacity; Cultural services: Cultural heritage and identity; Cognitive Benefits; Leisure and Recreation: Leisure and recreation; Wellness (non-use value); Future Benefits: Options Value; Resilience and resistance (life support); Habitat; Nutrient cycling)

  • Building on the experience in MA SGAs.

  • Sharing and improving areas of expertise and knowledge.

  • Providing a comparative assessment of marine and terrestrial ecosystem services and human well-being for Brazilian coast´s ecosystems in an incremental way.

In Brazil, there is a need of SGAs focusing on the coastal area, therefore the assessment will include various ecosystems including marine and coastal, island, forest, and peri-urban. It will emphasize both natural and socio-economic issues, regarding the developmental status of the region, with particular focus on the country level of Brazil.

Mandate for the assessment

The assessment is being conducted by a joint effort of different universities under the framework of the Araçá Bay Project.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA)

The Brazilian Coast Assessments project methodology is based on the Millennium Assessment practices (MEA, 2005), on the SWOT (Fig. 2) method (Paliwal, 2006) and other best practices, including ecological economy valuation.

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

Amaral, A.C.Z., Migotto, A.E., Turra, A. & Schaeffer-Novelli, Y. Araçá: biodiversidade, impactos e ameaças. Biota Neotrop. v. 10 n.1 p. 219-264 disponível em: <> Accessed on 08 oct. 2012. Beaumont, N.J.; Austen, M.C.; Atkins, J.P.; Burdon, D.; Degraer, S.; Dentinho, T.P.; Derous, S.; Holm, P.; Horton, T.; van Ierland, E.; Marboe, A.H.; Starkey, D.J.; Townsend, M. & Zarzycki, T. 2007. Identification, definition and quantification of goods and services provided by marine biodiversity: Implications for the ecosystem approach. Mar. Poll. Bull., 54: 253-265. Costanza R. 1994. Economia ecológica: uma agenda de pesquisa. In: May, P.H. & Serôa da Motta, R (eds), Valorando a natureza – análise econômica para o desenvolvimento sustentável. Editora Campus, Rio de Janeiro, pp. 111-144. Costanza, R. (ed.) 1991. Ecological Economics - The Science and Management of Sustainability. New York, Columbia University Press. MEA - Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Ecosystems and human well-being. A framework for assessment Current state and trends: findings of the Condition and Trends Working Group / edited by Rashid Hassan, Robert Scholes, Neville Ash. 2005. PALIWAL, R. EIA practice in India and its evaluation using SWOT analysis. Environmental Impact Assessment Review p. 492 – 510, 2006.

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal
  • Island
  • Forest and woodland
  • Urban

Species groups assessed

Plankton System; Nekton System; Benthic System; Mangrove System; Trophic Interactions; Fisheries Assessment;

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food
  • Water
  • Genetic resources
  • Medicinal resources
  • Ornamental resources


  • Climate regulation
  • Moderation of extreme events
  • Regulation of water flows
  • Regulation of water quality
  • Waste treatment
  • Erosion prevention

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Habitat maintenance
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Primary production

Cultural Services

  • Recreation and tourism

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started


Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish


Periodicity of assessment

One off

Assessment outputs


not yet developed


Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Modelling
  • Trade-off analysis
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators
  • Scenarios
  • Economic valuation
  • Social (non-monetary) valuation
  • Stakeholder consultations

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

not yet defined

Key stakeholder groups engaged

not yet defined

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process


Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only
  • Resource experts (e.g. foresters etc)
  • Traditional/local knowledge
  • Citizen science

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

in processes of definition

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

not yet defined, but a data management system is being created to store and distribute the data.

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

medium to high (targeted)

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

MA Framework

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Fellowships/exchanges/secondments/mentoring programmes, Network and sharing experiences, Sharing of data/repatriation of data, Developing/promoting and providing access to support tools, Formal training, Communication and awareness raising

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

not yet defined

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

Not yet defined

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Not yet defined

Additional relevant information

Originally, the group was engaged in the construction of a project (IBSA) aiming to apply the MA methodologies for the coastal zone of Brazil and comparing the results with similar initiatives agreed with South African and Indian groups. It was a sub-national assessment, which scale was selected by reducing the geographical area to a Brazilian region (South-South East with ~3000 km of coast line), which represents well the diversity of environments and social pressures at the national scale (~8000 km). The three groups of IBSA had to present the proposal for financial support at the national agencies, which had established a tri-national agreement for scientific purposes, focusing one of the priorities on ecosystem assessment. The Indian group failed to submit their proposal on due time and our IBSA initiative was not considered for support by the funding committee. Then, it was a failure, and forced the Brazilian group to change the strategy.

After this impasse, we were forced to redirect our effort to find a way to implement what we were planning for the IBSA exercise but without any financial support. In order not to lose the enthusiasm, which bonds any team and was initially great, instead of looking around for support funds with the original project, we decided to search for ongoing projects to associate with, proposing the MA and SGA approaches to other groups in order to collaborate in an initial small scale Prove of Concept coastal assessment. In such a way, we approached the Biota Project with success. This project will consider Araçá Bay, São Sebastião, São Paulo (Fig. 1), as a model for the study, with future applications to other regions. Simultaneous gathering and analysis of data, according to the type of habitat, will allow this region to be investigated from a unified viewpoint, examining issues related to the present state of the area and its ecological, social, economic, and political importance, thus permitting a dialogue between science and decision-makers. The Biota project is structured in study modules: 1- Plankton System; 2- Nekton System; 3- Benthic System; 4- Mangrove System; 5- Hydrodynamics; 6- Sediment Dynamics; 7- Trophic Interactions; 8- Fisheries Assessment; 9- Identification and Valuation of Ecosystem Services; 10- Integrated Management; and 11- Ecological Modeling. The former IBSA team will be integrated in several modules and, particularly, at Module 9 dealing with the assessment and valuation of ecosystem services.

The Bay of Araçá, located in São Sebastião, on the northern coast of São Paulo state, constitutes the last testimony of existing preserved mangrove areas in the stretch between Bertioga and Ubatuba, since other mangrove areas were decimated by human occupation. The Araçá is an area of great complexity and consists of a small bay bordered by rocky coasts and covering four beaches (Deodato, Pernambuco, Germano and Top), two islets (Pernambuco and Pedroso), three main cores of mangrove forests, and an extensive plain of soft bottom, fully exposed in periods of low tide, particularly at spring tides. The beaches slope is gently, with width of the intertidal zone of 50-300 m, and consisting of sandy-muddy sediments, relatively compact, and gravels. Thus, Araçá can be classified as a sheltered bay, with hydrodynamics dominated by the tide, but it also suffers the action of waves of low amplitude. Due to the proximity of the urban settlements, their biotopes have been exposed for many years to different types of human action, such as irregular occupations, domestic sewage and the proximity of the Port of San Sebastian and the Oil Terminal of Petrobras, and affected by constant oil spills and other disturbances (Amaral et al., 2010).

The valuation of resources and ecosystem services has implications that transcend a mere technique to value environmental attributes, either as expressed through economic assumptions or by goals such as physical laws and biological principles, since the aim is to bring visibility by integrating them into the economic rationality and into the importance of sustaining life provided by nature. Moreover, the environmental valuation is looking legitimacy, not only to better understand the role of natural resources, but to reflect awareness of its uses.

The Brazilian Coast Assessments project methodology is based on the Millennium Assessment practices (MEA, 2005), on the SWOT (Fig. 2) method (Paliwal, 2006) and other best practices, including ecological economy valuation. Ecological economics is a school of thought that seeks to analyze the functioning of the economic system grounded in physical and biological assumptions. Ecological economics is a transdisciplinary approach that considers the full range of inter-relationship between economic and ecological systems (Costanza, 1991) and seeks to integrate these systems in the investigation of a new concept, encompassing these disciplines. According to the same author (Costanza, 1994), this new vision incorporates the notions of space, time and subsystems to be studied, allowing a wider scope. The difficulty in dealing with economic issues together with environmental led several authors in search of different approaches to evaluating products and ecosystem services.

According to Beaumont et al. (2007), one can divide the marine products, resources and ecosystem services into four categories, mainly associated with the local biodiversity. These categories, in turn, can be classified better if we re-organize them in the form of marine goods and services used to evaluate the contribution to the welfare of humanity, as shown below. Coastal goods and services:

  • Production Services: Food, Mineral and not Mineral Resources.

  • Regulating services: Climate regulation; Prevention of floods and storms.

  • Purification of effluents: self-purification capacity.

  • Cultural services: Cultural heritage and identity; Cognitive Benefits.

  • Leisure and Recreation: Leisure and recreation; Wellness (non-use value)

  • Future Benefits: Options Value; Resilience and resistance (life support); Habitat; Nutrient cycling

This will be the task of this more spatially restricted assessment, which will put the evaluation of ecosystem services, understood as opportunities and strengths in the SWOT framework, into the context of marine spatial planning.

This is an incremental project, departing, at the first step, with a single (well representative) site, with the idea of using it as a prove of concept, extending to other sites, covering sub-national levels and, finally, the National one which, by the Brazilian size, could be also a regional representation.