‘Nature’s Victory’: with work from UFSC and the Distrito do Saí community, Santa Catarina state wins a conservation unit
With a decree issued by the mayor of São Francisco do Sul, on the North Coast of Santa Catarina, the Nascentes do Saí Wildlife Refuge (WR) – the newest full protection Conservation Unit (CU) in the State and the first municipal CU in São Francisco do Sul – has been officially created. With an area of 67.07 km² and a perimeter of 64.9 km, the Nascentes do Saí WR involved the work of a team of professors, professionals and students from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC) together with the local community. In September 2021, the UFSC Communication Agency (AGECOM) made a series of reports gathering the main data collected in the process and presenting the scientific arguments that indicated the importance of preserving the site.
“The baseline study carried out by UFSC to diagnose the conditions of the environment was fundamental to support the creation of the conservation unit, helping to determine the perimeter, the objectives of the UC and the restrictions on the use of the territory. However, it is from the publication of a law or decree that a Conservation Unit really starts to exist as a legally protected space”, explains Professor Rodrigo de Almeida Mohedano (from the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at UFSC), coordinator of the project that suggested the creation of the CU.
Professor Orlando Ferretti, from the Department of Geosciences, recalls that, for UFSC and the entire team involved in the work, the creation of the Nascentes do Saí WR is the final achievement, but also a new gateway to the continuity of research in the region. “We hope that the outreach and research work will serve as an example to other proposals in the State, and inspire communities and municipalities to develop new studies aimed at creating protected areas, with the support of UFSC”, he observes. “This is a fundamental step towards the defense of nature on the north coast of Santa Catarina”, he summarizes.
In addition to being a region of high biodiversity, the Distrito do Saí is also endowed with rich water resources. Mohedano explains that, in this sense, the creation of the CU also brings security to the population. “Despite being blessed with abundant rainfall, the municipalities located in the coastal regions of the Atlantic Forest generally have low water storage capacity. Thus, maintaining the flow of springs, through the preservation of vegetation, is essential”, he argues.
Ferretti also recalls that the now protected region is a priority for the preservation of the Atlantic Forest, through the Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve (MABR) and an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), present in the limits of the Distrito do Saí. “The studies were delivered in 2021 to the city hall and the community of the Distrito do Saí, with emphasis on the high biodiversity of the Saí region, the good preservation of the area, and the involvement of the community in contributing to the creation of a protected area, a dream cherished for a few years by most residents”, he points out.
Now, the next step will be the mandatory creation of a Management Plan, an official document for the planning of Conservation Units, which must cover the area, its buffer zone and the ecological corridors, and ways of reconciling preservation with the economic and cultural activities of the neighboring communities. “The management plan must be prepared in a democratic and participatory manner, with the identification of the interested social actors”, highlights Mohedano. “The UFSC team that worked on the Nascentes do Saí Project and the local community are very happy with the creation of the Wildlife Refuge and we know that this is the beginning of a new stage of continuous work for the preservation of natural wealth, so important in the current context”, he concludes.
Translated by SINTER/UFSC.
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