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THE OURO PRETO DECLARATION

on
Brazilian Forest Canopies: Biodiversity and Climate Change
1st July 2004
Participants at Brazil’s first International Forest Canopy Workshop hosted at the Universidade Federal de
Ouro Preto, in Minas Gerais State, between June 28th and 1st July 2004, comprising researchers, students
and important members of Research Institutes, Universities, Business, Non-Governmental-Organizations
and Brazilian and Foreign Governmental organisations involved in the pioneering field of forest canopy
research, do this day solemnly make this declaration.
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1
RECOGNIZING that the canopy is where the forest meets and interacts with the atmosphere;

RECOGNIZING that forest canopies are among the least known and studied habitats of the planet and
that they shelter the majority of terrestrial biodiversity;

RECOGNIZING that Brazil harbours the greatest expanse of tropical forest in the world, possibly being
biologically the most diverse on the planet, that has an important function in national and global climate
regulation, and provides products and ecological services of significant value for Brazilian and foreign
communities;

CONSIDERING that the Convention of Biological Diversity (Rio 92) and its Work Programme on
Forests requests that Governments protect threatened habitats, including forest canopies, and calls for
more research of “the interface between forest components and the atmosphere”

CONSIDERING that the 2002 Cairns Declaration on Forest Canopy Research calls for the development
and implementation of a Global Canopy Programme;

CONSIDERING the Brazilian biodiversity policy, decree No. 4339;

BELIEVING that canopy research can help to fill gaps of information identified by the Ad Hoc Technical
Expert Group on Biological Diversity and Climate change2, as well as those identified by the IPCC Report
to the CBD on Climate Change and Biodiversity3.

BELIEVING that forest canopies play a crucial role in; the maintenance of terrestrial water balance; in
the maintenance of the equilibrium of the carbon exchanges between the biosphere and the atmosphere;
provide critical environmental services for the sustainability of our planet; represent a wide range of
genetic resources; and have a great potential in medicinal, pharmacological, educative, tourist and leisure
use for human communities.

RECOGNIZING that studies made in the canopy have demonstrated the existence of unique animal and
plant groups and an important relationship with atmospheric processes, being one of the main habitats
responsible for the maintenance of the climatic equilibrium of the Earth;

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Defined as the: Assemblage of tree canopies, including a great diversity of biological, physical and chemical
interactions, which receive the most part of the energy that maintains these ecosystems.
2
SBSTTA 9 (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/11),
3
Technical article V
EMPHASIZING that all forests and their canopies are going through a rapid destruction process, with
loss of habitats which have direct consequences on the quality of life and that the destruction of forests
and their canopies implies severe environmental, cultural and socio-economical consequences, such as
climate change, species extinction, soil erosion, decrease of the water availability, reduction of the tourist
potential, diseases and misery;

WE BELIEVE that the conservation of a significant proportion of the planet’s biodiversity must
necessarily involve the conservation of forest canopies.

We the undersigned therefore;

1 REQUEST the implementation of an integrated canopy research, education and conservation


programme that meets Brazilian priorities, with the following objectives:

1.1 Perform research that is required to investigate the function of the canopy diversity in the
maintenance of the environmental services supplied by the forests;

1.2 Investigate the impacts of the global climate change and other human modifications at the
forest / atmosphere interface;

1.3 Create human resources and infrastructure for the investigation of all forest ecosystems;

1.4 Develop new methods of sharing the benefits generated from forests to the local
communities and civil society, through access to new opportunities relating to the forest
canopy;

1.5 Disperse the results to decision makers, including public authorities, educators,
entrepreneurs and local communities.

2 WE RECOMMEND:

2.1 Encouragement of comparative and long term research among different sites;

2.2 The establishment of research sites that include structures that allow the observation,
inventory, monitoring and forest preservation;

2.3 The extension, development and qualification of human resources and infrastructure;

2.4 Research and stimulate the sharing of derived benefits from the canopy such as, for
example, the sustainable use of its resources and ecotourism;

2.5 Incentivise and promote programme’s of communication and dissemination of canopy


research results for decision makers and not just for the academic community;

2.6 That the described activities in this declaration, when appropriate, should be integrated
into the international programmes developed by the Global Canopy Programme.

3 WE OFFER, through the Brazilian scientific and conservation community:

3.1 An emergent network of experienced and qualified canopy researchers and their access
methods;
3.2 The integration of these proposed activities with the long-term research and monitoring
networks already in existence in Brazil including the Long Term Ecological Research
Programme (PELD) and Large-scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Programme (LBA);

3.3 A working plan for the development of a project programme focused on integrating
canopy research;

3.4 The establishment of a canopy research training programme at post-graduate level, based
on the existence of specialists and an already established methodology, and the possible
extension of this programme for graduate students, environmental administrators,
educators, field technicians and those interested.

4 WE REQUEST from the Brazilian Government the implementation of its responsibilities under the
Expanded Working Plan on Forests, of the Convention on Biological Diversity, through the support
and encouragement of the development of a canopy research, education and conservation programme.

5. WE ASK FOR support from national agencies as well as the national and international donor
community to offer financial assistance for the implementation and maintenance of a canopy research
programme in Brazil.

6. WE INVITE Brazilian Scientific Institutions to establish research partnerships in the conduct of


research of this proposal and for insertion in already existing international partnerships.

SIGNED this day 1st July 2004, at the Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto, Brazil.