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Brazil’s Atlantic Forest receives international support

Sustainable use boost

One of Brazil’s most threatened Important Bird Areas (IBAs), Boa Nova IBA, is to benefit from a new project that will develop management plans with local people to promote sustainable use of forest resources.

Forest Conservation Project in Atlantic Tropical Forest is part of an international collaboration led by BirdLife’s Asia Division, funded and supported by Ricoh Co. Ltd, to be implemented on the ground by SAVE Brasil (BirdLife in Brazil).

Boa Nova is located in the southwestern part of the Bahia state, and has been famous among ornithologists for decades due to its unique and diverse bird community -359 in all, 10 of them globally threatened- a result of the fact that two biomes overlap: lush montane Atlantic Forest on one side, Caatinga (Brazilian semi-arid vegetation) the other. In this transitional area lies a dry vegetation formation known as mata-de-cipó, a well known locality for the threatened Slender Antbird Rhopornis ardesiacus, one of the rarest antbirds in Brazil, and the Narrow-billed Antwren Formicivora iheringi.

The new project comes just in time; a great part of original forest habitat has been destroyed in the region, largely driven by firewood gathering, illegal deforestation, clearance for plantations, slash-and-burn processes, overgrazing, and undeveloped land utilisation plans. In 2006, Boa Nova IBA was singled out as one of sixteen Brazilian IBAs (out of 163) “in a critical situation [that] continue suffering direct (illegal capture, hunting) or indirect (environment destruction) aggressions” according to SAVE Brasil.

Over three years the new Forest Conservation Project in Atlantic Tropical Forest project, will work to develop sustainable land-use practices under a number of forest conservation management plans; covering aspects including forest resources, business plans for local communities, drawing together best-practice guidelines and investing in ecotourism initiatives in the area.

Other outcomes from the project will address the driving factors behind habitat loss; with research into firewood substitutes for local communities; ‘planting plans’ whereby existing species of tree are planted when others are destroyed; and school programmes where the rainforests, and the ‘ecosystem services’ the forests provide, will be extensively covered.

Forest Conservation Project in Atlantic Tropical Forest was truly international in its inception, involving conservationists from BirdLife Asia Division and SAVE Brasil. Ricoh have provided running costs for the project contributing in the region of 7.5 million yen ($65, 310 USD) as part of its social contribution initiative, the Forest Ecosystem Conservation Program.

“Ricoh and BirdLife Asia strongly hope that the purpose and value of this project, which is to allow the competent protection of biological diversity with sustainable use of the forest, will be understood by other companies and that this support will expand,” said a spokesperson from BirdLife International.

4th July 2014