Cattle-raising and agriculture (e.g. growing sugarcane) are carried out in the Cabo Frio region. The ecosystems are seriously threatened by expanding land-development and increasing pressure from tourism. Lack of regional planning strategy and environmental controls allows occupation of the sandy coastal plains by housing projects (for vacation homes) with inadequate infrastructure and by sanitary landfill operations. Salt- producing flats on the edge of the Araruama Lagoon, when abandoned, have been built up instead of being returned to the lagoon to improve the fishery. Remnants of the forest also are being cleared for summer homes for tourists. The lack of infrastructure and enforcement additionally threatens the few conservation units.


There are two ecological reserves in the Cabo Frio region, the Reserva Ecológica de Jacarepiá (12.5 km²) and the Reserva Ecológica de Massambaba (13.7 km²), and two environmental protection zones, the Area de Proteção Ambiental de Massambaba (111 km²) which includes the two ecological reserves and the APA de Sapiatiba (60 km²). The dunes are protected by decree from the Fundação Estadual de Engenharia do Meio Ambiente (FEEMA). However, these units are administered by the State of Rio de Janeiro with very limited funds. As a result, the boundaries have not been fenced,there are no rangers in the units and no local headquarters, etc. Some hope for preservation of natural wealth of the Cabo Frio region lies in assistance from the locally active non- governmental organizations, whose members are attentive to infractions of the law and notify the appropriate State authorities.

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