Atlantic Forest remnant purchased to save critically endangered species in Brazil21/07/2007 00:00:00
‘This patch of forest is an ark for biodiversity that would otherwise disappear – there is nothing else left in the area but logged-over forests and cattle pasture for fifty miles in every direction,’ said Paul Salaman, Director of International Programs for American Bird Conservancy.
In the middle of vast cattle pastures stands a tiny 2,000 acre remnant of Brazilian Atlantic forest located in Minas Gerais at the border with Bahia State. This small remaining patch of forest – threatened with logging - may harbour more endangered vertebrates than any other site of similar size on earth.
‘The acquisition was a first step in a long-term conservation program for threatened species that live in this small patch of Atlantic Forest. While this action stands as a concrete contribution to bird conservation globally, it is urgent that we acquire additional properties surrounding the new reserve to ensure a viable and effective protected area,’ said Glaucia Drummond, Technical Superintendent of Biodiversitas.
Critically Endangered Species
The site has been identified as critically important by the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE, www.zeroextinction.org), a global initiative of biodiversity conservation organizations that aims to prevent extinctions by identifying and safeguarding key sites where species are in imminent danger of disappearing.
The Reserve is listed as an AZE site because of the presence of two Critically Endangered species: the Stresemann's Bristlefront, a thrush-like bird, and the Yellow-breasted Capuchin, a primate. At least 16 threatened species of birds, including the Endangered Brown-backed Parrotlet, Red-browed Amazon, Hook-billed Hermit, Banded Cotinga, and Bahia Tyrannulet, and four threatened mammals also inhabit the site including the Thin-spined Porcupine and giant armadillo.
Illegal Logging & Forest Fires
The current status of the forest fragments in Bahia state is dire due to illegal deforestation, agricultural production and forest fires. Due to the rapid habitat loss taking place, emergency action must be taken to acquire forested areas, and to advance alternatives to agriculture in buffer areas to protect the area’s unique biodiversity.
Biodiversitas will follow up on the acquisition of the reserve with programs to promote local involvement in the reserve’s conservation, as well as education efforts to decrease the impacts of local communities on natural areas. The creation of the reserve begins a conservation process that will include ecotourism and scientific research, which, in the long-term, should allow the comeback of imperilled biodiversity.
‘We've guaranteed the protection of the area, now we have to apply our energy into ensuring its sustainability and management,’ said the Project Coordinator Eduardo Figueiredo. ‘The support of local communities is essential for conservation to work of the long-term.’
Romulo Ribon, a Brazilian avian specialist from the Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto who rediscovered Stresemann's Bristlefront on this and neighbouring properties, emphasizes the urgency of improving biological knowledge about the bird. Such information will aid the implementation of a management plan to conserve the area.
‘Additionally, urgently-needed acquisitions will guarantee the effective conservation of the ecosystems and species of the area,’ said Salaman.
The purchase was made possible with the support of the Beneficia Foundation, Robert Wilson, and Connie and Jeff Woodman.