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Changing a Brazilian Protected Areas Paradigm: Why Public Use is Not Just Optional

Ernesto Bastos Viveiros de Castro


Over the last few decades, Brazilian National Parks followed a paradigm suggesting that public use is only a superfluous activity that can be developed after the full implementation of a Protected Area, which we refer to as the “cherry on the cake paradigm.” This case study aims at discussing whether the increase of public use activities is related to the development of other management activities. This is done by using selected indicators from Serra dos Órgãos National Park (SONP) and investigating aspects of the history of this protected area. The results indicate that if it is not possible to conclude that public use causes improvement in other management activities, there is a strong relationship between the number of visitors and other management indicators. In contrast to what happens in Brazil, our results suggest that public use should be taken into account by protected area managers from the moment of its creation. By doing this, public use contributes significantly to protected areas’ image improvement and to the gain of allies for conservation.

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Public use, Brazilian National Parks, National Park Management

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