Guaratiba Mangrove National Park

with Shaimaa Atef

A planning and schematic design proposal for a protected ecological per-urban park south of Rio de Jianero called Guaratiba

Vision Statement

Guaratiba Mangrove National Park will be defined by a rehabilitated and monitored healthy mangrove ecosystem with well designed and limited public access. In order to achieve this, the park as a collaboratively and independently managed entity must first cooperate with military parties and ecological health. Furthermore, it will be a catalyst for agricultural and water resource management policies, in it’s watershed, while limiting new urban development to mid and high rise density developments 50m from all streams.

Rehabilitate and preserve healthy functioning mangrove ecosystem while making park accessible to public in controlled manner (Recreational trails and boat stops and tourism)

Collaborate with neighbouring groups with shared interests in the park to achieve Integrated Ecological Management programs that are as win-win as possible

Organic farming, WOOFING, sustainability research

Urban Development strategy that is watershed focused

Waste water and storm water management policy framework



Currently, Guaratiba is IUCN designation I protected area. Our vision sees it becoming slightly more open to the public as part of a plan for maintaining the integrity of the Mangrove ecosystem in the future. IUCN Designation II National Park, is defined as follows:

“Large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes…” (mangrove ecosystem)
“…along with the complement of species and ecosystems characteristic of the area…” (shrimp, crabs, water quality)
“…which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities.” (boardwalk, boat tours, education)

Management – Visualizing a Planning Approach


Mangrove [MANGUE, MANGUEZAL, MANGAL] Rhizophora – Red Mangrove


Our project is at once inspired by the mangrove and driven by it. The mangrove is a species that has adapted to thrive in liminal or mixed/middle
zone conditions, which is what our project gains inspiration from – to operate in the middle zone in cooperation with opposing and collaborative forces brought together by the national park.

Mangroves are an increasingly threatened ecosystem, due to their unique occurence at the inter-tidal zones of river deltas where salt water and freshwater mix. In addition to existing in this liminal water environment, their roots also grow half above water and half below.
They are extremely sensitive to water quality, which is of interest because not all of Rio de Janeiro is serviced by water treatment as in Toronto, especially where informal settlements are involved. They thrive in an axiotic (low oxygen) ecosystem with shallow, sedimentary soil. In Brazil, all mangroves are considered Areas of Permanent Protection under the Forest Code. Guaratiba will belong to a network of coastal marine protected areas in Brazil with the common goal of preserving the unique coastal system of mangrove.
Rio also exists at an intersection in terms of mangrove population: it is part of a transition zone between mesotidal and microtidal mangrove regions, but mainly exhibits features of a microtidal system. A 1997 study in China displayed potential for mangroves to withstand and treat sewage, so the relationship between health of ecosystem and sewage discharge must be clarified, leading to a comprehensive understanding of what contaminants are harming the plants and where in the watershed they must be addressed.

Shrimp and crabs are integral to the ecosystem as they eat the leaf litter from the bottom of the shore, allowing more light and oxygen to reach the roots…
commercial shrimp farming in mangrove systems is advised against, as “a sustainable resource with multiple values is converted to a system with a single output and potentially high but possibly short-term economic payoff, with equally high management costs and risk of failure..” (Lugo, 2002)
The mangrove is integral to the health of shrimp and crab and fishing industries on coasts along Rio because of their cleaning properties.



Planning for Green Corridors and connecting the fragmented forested patches and try to contain irreversible ecological damages in the urban expansion areas.


Rehabilitate the mangrove: instigate an urban water management strategy within Guaratiba’s watershed to reduce the water quality and quantity load on the mangroves in Guaratiba. Inventory and explore the park to document it’s health with scientists, identify areas for improvement.
Open access: move military, turn into eco tourist centre
Buffer and expand: Organic farms help treat water before entering, ensure there are no pesticides, while preventing against the growth of agriculture and aquaculture in the desireable mangrove area – it will already be occuring in the lands directly north.. Include flood zone as no development zone



Proposed Park Boundaries


Landscape Types in the Guaratiba Region


The Agricultural Land Typology


Water Treatment Strategies

Water Treatment Strategies

Urban Growth Distribution

Urban Growth Distribution

Housing Typologies

Housing Typologies

New Urban Development Schematic

New Urban Development Schematic

Park Circulation and Access

Park Circulation and Access

Park Edge Conditions Schematic

Park Edge Conditions Schematic

Proposed Park Land Use and Program

Proposed Park Land Use and Program



Chaouni, Aziza et al. Designing Ecological Tourism Lab.

Herzog, Cecilia. “Connecting the Wonderful Landscapes of Rio de Jianero.”

Magris, Rafael Almeida and Raquel Barreto. “Mapping and assessment of protection of mangrove habitats in Brazil.” Pan American Journal of Aquatic Sciences. 2010. pdf_artigos/PANAMJAS_5(4)_546-556.pdf

Schaeffer-Novelli et. al. “Brazilian Mangroves,” 2000

Wong, Y.S. et al. “Mangrove wetlands as wastewater treatment facility: a field trial.” Hydrobiologia: 352. 1997. DOI 10.1023/A:1003040920173

Further Projects