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Global Ideas

City planners in Brazil discover the value of nature

For a long time, nature was not high on the list of important features for city planners in Brazil. But increased landslides and pollutions have forced them to rethink their strategy.

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Watch: Nature's value in a city

Project aim: Ensuring that public and private stakeholders in Brazil integrate considerations over socioeconomic and cultural value of ecosystems into their decisions and policies
Project partners: Brazil's environment ministry (MMA), Brazil's National Confederation of Industry (CNI), German development agency GIZ and the International Climate Initiative (IKI)
Project budget: IKI and the German environment ministry (BMUB) will provide 6.5 million euros and Brazilian partners (government and private) will provide 4.5 million euros between 2012 and 2019
Project area: Selected networks of protected areas in Brazil's Atlantic Forest- this report focuses on Duque de Caxias, a city in the state of Rio de Janeiro
Biodiversity: The Atlantic Forest or Mata Atlantica is one of the five most important biodiversity hotspots in the world - more than 20,000 plant and 2,000 animal species live there.

Duque de Caxias is a concrete jungle. The city on the outskirts of another larger city, namely Rio de Janeiro, has seen huge population growth - and with that an explosion in industry and urbanization that has swallowed up mangroves, wetlands and parts of Brazil's tropical Atlantic Forest. That's affecting the climate there. Around 40 percent of the city is under threat from floods and landslides. In January 2013, thanks to poor urban planning, mudslides devastated Xerem, a district of Duque de Caxias. Now city planners are rethinking their strategy. Architect Mario Vieira is placing the city's urban ecological retreats under protection while prioritizing ecosystems and blocking new building projects when necessary. In Duque de Caxias, nature's value is being recognized, an approach that has made the city a pioneer in Brazil.

A film by Philipp Barth

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