Coordination for Conservation of the Atlantic Forest Ecoregion

Geographical location:

Latin America/Caribbean > LAC General

Latin America/Caribbean > South America > Argentina
Latin America/Caribbean > South America > Brazil
Latin America/Caribbean > South America > Paraguay

Summary

With the advent of ecoregion-based conservation in 1997 and the identification of the Atlantic Forest as one of the most important ecoregions in the world, WWF has been able to raise the level of funding for the Atlantic Forest to unprecedented levels.

Because of the complexity and biological importance of the Atlantic Forest, the foundation of WWF's strategy is the development of partnerships and coalitions to coordinate and implement timely conservation initiatives across the ecoregion.

Background

The Atlantic Forest once covered more than 999,740km2 along Brazil's coast with extensions into eastern Paraguay and northeastern Argentina. Today it is one of the most endangered rainforests in the world, with only 7% of the original forest now remaining.

The state of Bahia in Brazil boasts one of the highest diversities of tree species in the world, with 450 different species found in a single 2-acre area of the forest. The ecoregion has one of the highest proportions in the world of endemic species, many of them found only in small areas. More than 52% of the tree species and 92% of the amphibians in the Atlantic Forest are found nowhere else in the world. 6,000 plant species, 263 amphibians, and 160 mammals, including 22 primate species, are endemic. And because the vast majority of the Atlantic Forest has disappeared, many of these species, including the golden lion tamarin, 18 other primates, and at least 158 birds, are highly endangered.

The majority of the ecoregion lies within the agricultural, industrial, and population centre of Brazil, along with 75% of the country's human population. Both Rio de Janeiro (population 9.6 million) and Sao Paulo (population 11 million) lie within this ecoregion. The major threat in Brazil is loss of habitat caused by urban development, associated road building, and agricultural expansion.

In contrast, the Atlantic Forest regions of Argentina and Paraguay which still retain the largest forested areas, are also the poorest regions. Lack of sustainable economic alternatives for increasing numbers of landless peasants migrating to these forested areas poses a serious threat.

WWF has supported research and field projects in the Atlantic Forest in Brazil since 1972, in Argentina since 1994 and in Paraguay since 1995.

Objectives

- Establish WWF Ecoregional Team's capacity to coordinate Atlantic Forest ecoregional conservation.

- Develop a network of institutions with a shared vision for the ecoregion.

- Develop a biological vision for the Atlantic Forest.

- Enable the recognition and viability of the Misiones Tri-National Green Corridor.

- Limit unsustainable use of the forest.

- Increase public awareness of the value of the Atlantic Forest and disseminate the value of ecological services of protected forest to the general public and decision makers.

- Develop mechanisms to provide long-term support for Atlantic Forest conservation initiatives, including land acquisition.

Solution

1. Develop a long-term vision and conservation priorities that bring together all stakeholders in the Atlantic Forest.

2. Coordinate actions for implementation of the biological visions.

3. Build and protect large forest blocks in priority areas and connect them through corridors.

4. Establish a policy framework to improve protection and management of forested areas.

5. Build local capacity and public support to implement the long-term vision.

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