Brazil Publishes National Red List Assessments for Marine Turtles

A hawksbill turtle swims off the coast of Brazil. Hawksbills are one of five marine turtle species found in Brazil. Image courtesy of TAMAR.

In order to define the actions most needed to protect Brazil’s national fauna, the conservation status of each species must be assessed to identify primary threats, sites of importance for protection, and compatibility with human activities. Such status assessments also provide a basis for the National List of Endangered Species, which, as a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Brazilian government is obligated to maintain.

In October 2009, ICMBio (the Brazilian federal agency for biodiversity conservation) started a process to evaluate the conservation status of Brazil’s sea turtles, which was carried out in accordance with IUCN criteria for regional Red List assessments. The process included public consultation through an evaluation form that was published on the ICMBio website and sent to targeted scientific bodies and specialists throughout Brazil. Neca Marcovaldi, national technical coordinator of Projeto TAMAR and MTSG regional vice-chair for the Southwest Atlantic Region, coordinated the review process for sea turtles, and Alexsandro Santos, national manager of SITAMAR (Information System on Marine Turtles), acted as focal point for this process.

The information received through the evaluation form was compiled and used as supporting information for a workshop to develop national Red List assessments for sea turtles. The workshop was attended by members of TAMAR-ICMBio, Fundação Pró Tamar, the coordinator of the Brazilian Red List Assessment (Dr. Monica Peres from the ICMBio Department of Biodiversity), researchers, and experts on sea turtles. The resulting draft assessment was then sent to two anonymous experts in IUCN criteria for validation of this assessment (i.e. “peer review”).

The resulting evaluations of marine turtles were chosen as the subject for the first edition of BIO BRAZIL – Brazilian Biodiversity, an ICMBio electronic magazine created for the publication of the assessments. The assessments of the five sea turtle species that occur in Brazil are available through this link.

The main threats that were defined through the Red List assessments are being used to inform the development of a National Action Plan for Sea Turtles that will guide conservation activities and research in the Brazil for the next 5 years. The entire Action Plan is expected to be published in August.

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