Estuarine pollution imposes rapid, increasing and lasting environmental modifications. In the present review, especial attention is given to estuaries in South America (SA), where legislation, policies and actions to guarantee environmental quality remain ineffective. There, the majority of estuaries face uncontrolled occupation of its margins by urban and industrial centres, agriculture and aquaculture expansion, water extraction and flow control. The lack of basic sanitation and poor environmental management (including territories within Marine Protected Areas) often lead to hydrological alterations, high nutrient loads, and the presence and dynamics of pollutants (nutrient loads, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), metals and plastic debris) along the entire estuarine ecocline. Organic enrichment has increased dissolved oxygen consumption, with wide spatio-temporal variability along latitudes and estuarine gradients. The toxicity, biogeochemistry and availability of metals and POPs depend on the annual fluctuations of salinity, water renewal, dissolved oxygen levels, suspended particulate loads, sediment mobility, grain size and composition at the sink. Plastic debris from land sources are widespread in estuaries, where they continue to fragment into microplastics. River basins are the main contributors of plastics to estuaries, whose transportation and accumulation are subjected to interannual water flow variations. Although some systems seems to be in a better condition in relation to others around the world (e.g. Goiana and Negro estuaries), many others are among the most modified worldwide (e.g. Guanabara Bay and Estero Salado System). We propose that, estuarine conservation plans should consider year-round fluctuations of the ecocline and the resulting cycles of retention and flush of environmental signals and their influence on trophic webs over the whole extent of estuarine gradients.
The Brazilian Cerrado is the second largest biome in Latin America, extending over more than 200 million ha and hosts some of the most intensive agricultural activities for grain and beef production in the world. Because of the biodiversity richness and high levels of endemism, Cerrado is considered one of world's hotspot for biodiversity conservation. The objectives of this study are three-fold: to present a comprehensive division of Cerrado into different ecoregions that reflect the environmental heterogeneity within the biome; to analyze the ecoregions in terms of biophysical characteristics, protected areas, environmental liability in riparian permanent protection areas along watercourses, and priorities for biodiversity conservation; and to rank the ecoregions in terms of endangerment for biodiversity conservation and restoration. A previous study that delineated 22 ecoregions using geomorphology, vegetation, soil, geology, and plant diversity maps was revised using topography, vegetation, precipitation, and soil maps. Our new ecoregion map consists of 19 units that are unique in terms of landscape characteristics and has been adjusted to the current official boundary map of Cerrado. Some of the ecoregions consist of only one geomorphological compartment, whereas others are heterogeneous, consisting of up to eight compartments. Ferralsols comprise the dominant soil type in 14 of the ecoregions. The percentage of protected areas within ecoregions ranges from 1.7% to 51.5%. The most endangered ecoregion, where land use change critically threatens habitat integrity, is the Depressão Cárstica do São Francisco (states of Bahia, Minas Gerais, and Piauí), where environmental liability along riparian permanent protection areas amounts to 85.6% of the total area. Our proposed ecoregion map provides a spatial framework for regional and local assessments to improve decision-making processes to reconcile conservation and restoration planning, sustainable agriculture, and provision of ecosystem services. Besides de adjustment of the previous Cerrado's ecoregion map to the official biome boundary (relevant for the implementation of public policies of conservation as those regulated by the Brazilian Forest Code), the new analyses of the ecoregion map represent a substantial improvement in comparison to the ones conducted by the previous study in 2003. In addition, current web resources allow us to make all the information used or derived from this study available to other users. This opens the possibility of additional improvements of our findings by the scientific community or to be used effectively by decision makers.
3. Forest conservation is a key component of multilateral environmental agreements related to biodiversity conservation (Convention on Biological Diversity; CBD)) and climate change (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; UNFCCC), and ambitious national commitments are essential to the implementation of these agreements. To understand the relationships between developing countries’ different forest conservation commitments/policies made under the CBD and UNFCCC, here we proposed a policy screening scenario analysis approach. Two alternative scenarios of future forest changes are generated at the national scale: one based on a country’s national biodiversity targets developed for the CBD, and another based on the country’s REDD + forest reference level (FRL) developed for the UNFCCC. The proposed scenario analysis allows for estimation of the climate change mitigation and natural forest conservation benefits of selected national biodiversity targets in terms directly relevant to REDD+ (i.e. in relation to the “baseline” scenario of the FRL). From a literature review of national submissions to the CBD and UNFCCC, we found this scenario analysis is currently feasible for 16 countries.