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Good news from Brazil

Future of Serra do Urubu secured

The whole of the Serra do Urubu Important Bird Area, the last significant remnant of Atlantic Forest in northeast Brazil, is to be protected by two adjacent nature reserves. Serra do Urubu is home to 21 endemic bird species, including the critically endangered Alagoas Foliage-gleaner Philydor novaesi. Serra do Urubu is divided into the 390 hectare Pedro Dantas farm, and the 630 hectare Frei Caneca Private Nature Reserve created in the 1990s. SAVE Brasil, the NGO created from the BirdLife Brazil Programme has bought Pedro Dantas from its absentee owner.

Only 2% of the Atlantic Forest remains in Pernambuco state. Despite its small size, Serra do Urubu is of extreme biological importance. Four species previously known only from Murici, in the neighbouring state of Alagoas, have been found here: Alagoas Foliage-gleaner, Alagoas Antwren Myrmotherula snowi and Alagoas Tyrannulet Phylloscartes ceciliae (all Critically Endangered), and the Orange-bellied Antwren Terenura sicki (Endangered).Serra do Urubu is very rich in other biodiversity, with 35 species of mammals, 23 amphibians, 130 ferns and 66 orchids, and the highest number of Bromeliad genera known to occur at a single site. The bromeliad Neoregelia pernambucana, newly described to science and known only from this site, is pollinated by hummingbirds and its spores dispersed by species like the globally threatened Seven-colored Tanager Tangara fastuosa. There are believed to be fewer than 100 of these bromeliads left. Like the tanager they are threatened by illegal collectors. Other threats come from illegal logging and charcoal burning, fires from the surrounding sugar cane fields, and encroachment of agriculture.

BirdLife and its local partners will work with surrounding land owners to establish systems of sustainable production and engage with community leaders, government agencies, civil society groups and others to assess community needs and opportunities for sustainable livelihoods, said Pedro Develey, IBA Coordinator with BirdLife`s Brazil Programme. Now that Murici has been declared an Ecological Station, visitors will no longer be permitted there. As a result Serra do Urubu could absorb those ecotourists who want to see Alagoas Forest-gleaner and the other endemics. Other potential sources of revenue include the commercial growing of bromeliads.

NB The Jensen Foundation provided a grant for the purchase of the reserve, with initial funding for its future management coming from Natuurpunt (BirdLife in Belgium). The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) also supported the project providing financial assistance for the bird survey.

4th July 2014