Agreement Defined on Future of BR101 Wildlife Passages!

The following is a translation of an article posted on AMLD’s website on February 21st, 2017.  The article presents AMLD’s understanding of the outcome of a meeting held in Rio de Janeiro on February 17th.  At this meeting interested parties discussed the future of wildlife passageways over and under the BR101 interstate highway, currently being doubled in width, which passes through forests containing golden lion tamarins.


Brazilian Federal Public Prosecutor, federal environment agencies ICMBIO and IBAMA, federal transportation agency ANTT, toll road concession holder Autopista Fluminense - APF, and Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado – AMLD, sat at the same table to define the future of wildlife living along the BR-101 highway.

The decisive meeting was held February 17, 2017 in the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in Rio de Janeiro.  The objective was to define the structures for wildlife passages on highway BR-101, and to reach an agreement to end the Public Civil Suit Number 0098462-16.2016.4.02.5116 concerning compliance with environmental conditions placed on the permit for widening highway BR101 in Rio de Janeiro.

The most important news is that ALL INSTITUTIONS RECOGNIZED AND ACCEPTED ICMBIO’S OPINION that establishes the need to construct the following wildlife passages:

  • 2 forested overpasses. The first overpass to be constructed will eliminate isolation of wildlife in Poço das Antas Biological Reserve caused by widening of the highway.  Because of the high construction cost and the fact that this will be the first wildlife passage of this type to be built in Brazil, it was agreed that the monitoring of wildlife use of the first overpass would inform the design of the second overpass, to be constructed later at kilometer 240.

The strip of vegetation available to wildlife on the overpass will be 20 meters wide.  Any lateral protection to prevent branches from falling on the highway will be in addition to the 20 meters.   Autopista Fluminense requested and was granted a period of 10 months to prepare a construction plan.  Within 6 months ICMBIO must prepare the Terms of Reference for monitoring use of the overpass by wildlife.

  • 4 rigid structures over the highway connecting the forest canopy on each side (APF must complete the construction plan in 6 months).
  • 6 structures of ropes and cables connecting the forest canopy on each side of the highway (APF must complete the construction plan in 4 months).
  • 15 passages under the highway (APF must complete the construction plan in 5 months).
  • 11 passages under highway bridge spans  (APF previously presented proposals for adapting the spans of the highway bridges crossing 11 rivers to include wildlife passages.  ICMBIO approved 6 of these.  The remainder are now under review, and ICMBIO must present its opinion in 30 days).

AMLD together with local, national, and international research and biodiversity conservation organizations have worked for many years to ensure that wildlife passages are installed over the BR101 highway in Rio de Janeiro.  Thousands of people both from Brazil and countries throughout the world signed the recent petitions asking APF to install the wildlife passages.  All those signatures are now included in the court case documentation.

The decision is very positive and demonstrates a maturity of process and of the organizations involved.  ICMBIO, for example, reduced its requirements from 4 to 2 forested overpasses.  Autopista Fluminense and ANTT, who had wanted alternatives to the forested overpasses, understood their importance and are committed to building them.

We emphasize the important role of the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, especially Federal Public Prosecutor Flavio Reis, who played a fundamental role as mediator of the dialog among the parties.

We must now monitor the development of the construction plans and progress of the construction itself.  AMLD will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the passages for golden lion tamarins.  This is a long-term challenge, but essential for the viability of wildlife populations, not only of golden lion tamarins, but of all the associated fauna.

The Civil Case was not withdrawn.  The Prosecutor will request the presiding judge to suspend the case until the construction plans are completed, approved, and construction initiated.

Even at this late stage, with the widening of the highway practically completed, these structures will certainly have long-term impact – a reduction of wildlife road kills and an increase in the connectivity of the conservation landscape.  The construction of these passages can make this expanse of the BR-101 highway a world model for minimizing the impact of highways on biodiversity.

Participants in the meeting:

Office of the Federal Public Prosecutor (Dr. Flavio Reis)

ICMBio (Andreia Ribeiro, Region CR-8 Coordinator; Gustavo Luna, Director Poço das Antas Biological Reserve; Rodrigo Mayerhofer, Director Rio São João-Mico-Leão-Dourado Environmental Protection Area; Tatiana Ribeiro, ICMBio CR-8);

Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (Luis Paulo Ferraz, Executive Director and Andreia Martins, Biologist and Field Team Coordinator);

Autopista Fluminense (Odilio Ferreira, Superintendent Director; Marcello Gonçalves, Environment Manager; Gustavo Garcia & Cynthia Magri, attorneys);

IBAMA (Pedro Castilho, Rio de Janeiro Regional Superintendent; Adilson Pinto Gil; Antonio Carlos Machado Filho; Lidia Reis)

Agência Nacional de Transportes Terrestres, ANTT (Carlos Frederico Peixoto, Infrastructure Coordinator; Daniele Nunes de Castro, Forest Engineer; Marcelo Vargas).


Save the Golden Lion Tamarin and Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (AMLD) would like to recognize the special contribution of Philadelphia Zoo in helping us reach this important step forward toward assuring a future for golden lion tamarins in the wild.  The Philly Zoo 360 trails provided both an inspiration and technical input for the design of the wildlife passages recently approved for construction in Brazil.  The Philly Zoo online petition in English mobilized signatures from around the world asking Autopista Fluminense to build the wildlife passages – nearly half the 5,000 signatures AMLD delivered at the February 17 meeting.  Thanks to ALL who signed the petitions.  This public pressure was crucial in achieving the agreement, and the signatures now form part of the court case documentation.  We hope you will continue to support us in monitoring the construction of the wildlife passages over the BR101 and their effectiveness in connecting the Golden Lion Tamarin populations on each side of the highway.