Following the introduction, Part I of this article will outline threats to biodiversity within Brazil's borders. Because this is a topic that has already been explored extensively, this article makes no attempt to cover that ground exhaustively. Instead, Part I will attempt to highlight the variety and extent of Brazilian ecosystems and the biodiversity within them. Part I will also discuss current and emerging threats to biodiversity in Brazil, and above all, threats that have become even more real since the United Nation's celebrated "Earth Summit," held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. In particular, Part I will focus on the threats to biodiversity presented by increasing urbanization and internal migration to the nation's southern cities (most notably Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo). This focus matters because these threats are occurring worldwide, in other equally fragile ecosystems, including, for example, the Caribbean basin and the Indonesian archipelago.
Part II will limn the extensive contours of Brazilian biodiversity legislation. Again, however, because others have already covered this ground in different ways, Part II will not provide an exhaustive review of this topic. Instead, Part II aims to assist readers in locating the more recent focus on conservation units, like SNUC (National System of Conservation Units), within the broader framework of Brazilian environmental law, and, more specifically, Brazilian biodiversity protection law.
Part III will focus on SNUC in particular, providing both a brief history of its development and an introduction to its basic provisions. Part III will also attempt to locate the law in the context of global biodiversity protection efforts, and, in particular, the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosecurity. Lastly, Part III will consider the distinctiveness of this law and examine its comprehensive response to the threat to biodiversity.
Finally, Part IV will offer a critique of SNUC in the context of Brazilian social and economic realities. Above all, Part IV will explore the merits and perils of such an extensive and detailed law. SNUC raises, in its language and structure, important questions about the most effective means of environmental regulation. Simply put, this is to ask the following: are environmental protection and conservation better served by detailed legislation, like SNUC, or by more targeted laws, like the U.S. Endangered Species Act? This question is not easily answered. While SNUC is comprehensive, its details will inevitably create confusion among the regulated community and perhaps encourage sporadic enforcement. On the other hand, as critics of the U.S.'s ESA often note, a species-focused approach risks not taking the dynamic nature of ecosystems into account.
39 U. Miami Inter-Am. L. Rev. 1 (2007).