The Amazon receives less investment in biodiversity research than other regions of Brazil

Although the Brazilian Amazon is the most biodiverse region in the world and home to the largest tropical rainforest on the planet, investments in research on the biodiversity in the biome are disproportionately low compared to other regions of Brazil. The assertion is from a study carried out by researchers from Brazilian and foreign institutions, published in the journal Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation.

The paper, entitled “Brazilian public funding for biodiversity research in the Amazon“, shows that Amazonian institutions received approximately 10% of all federal budget spent on research projects and about 23% of all funds destined to support long-term ecological studies. And In 2022, the Amazon received 13% of master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral scholarships and hosted 12% of all researchers working in postgraduate programs in biodiversity.

The study analyzed funding for biodiversity research projects, offer of research grants, and training of researchers through graduate programs between 2016 and 2022. The sources analyzed were the two main federal government calls for funding for research in Brazil: the Long-Term Ecological Research Program (Peld, from the acronym in Portuguese) and the Universal call for proposals, both by the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq);and the largest federal agency for the training of human resources, the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (Capes).

“The aim of this study was to analyze the distribution of funding for biodiversity research and to show how knowledge about the Amazon has been underfunded in comparison with other regions of the country. The study also points pathways and makes recommendations to reduce such inequality,” says Joice Ferreira, a researcher at Embrapa Eastern Amazon and one of the authors of the paper.

She reports that research on biodiversity is important to understand how species are distributed in the territory and which regions are most ecologically sensitive within each biome. “Long-term ecological studies monitor the changes that each biome has been going through, caused both by natural events and by human action,” adds Lis Stegmann, a visiting researcher at Embrapa during the study and first author of the paper.

The study stems from a research network in the scope of the Synergize project, which is part of the Brazilian Synthesis Centre on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (SinBiose), by the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), involving researchers from 12 national and international institutions and is coordinated by Embrapa and the University of Bristol, in the United Kingdom.

High importance and little investment

According to the scientist, the analysis was based on data made available by federal agencies and the Transparency Portal. The distribution of funding for projects and scholarships in the different regions were analyzed based on population density and territorial extension. “We analyzed both the absolute figures and the numbers in contrast with the population of each region and the size of their respective territories. This is because we believe that these metrics should be conducive to policies and to the allocation of public funding,” Stegmann observes.

In absolute numbers, the Brazilian North and Midwest regions have the worst indicators. According to the study, the North received about 10% of the funding made available through CNPq’s Universal call for proposals between 2016 and 2022, and 22% of the funding available through CNPq’s 2020 PELD for long-term research. The South and Southeast regions combined had 50% of those funds during the period that was analyzed.

The analysis in terms of population shows that the North region would have one grant or scholarship for every 34,000 people, while the Southeast region had a ratio of one per 58,000 inhabitants. In addition, the North has 1.5 more researchers working in biodiversity programs than the Southeast. But the scenario is radically reversed when the distribution of funding is analyzed in the light of territorial extension.

“Although per capita investment in research in the Amazon is higher than or equivalent to that available in the most economically developed regions of Brazil, the distribution of funding per area is highly unequal,” Stegmann affirms.

Ana Laura Lima (MTb 1.268/PA)
Embrapa Eastern Amazon

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