Last Stand for Imperiled Brazilian Atlantic Biodiversity Ark

 

For Immediate Release: December 6, 2007

Contacts:
, American Bird Conservancy, 202/234-7181
, Fundação Biodiversitas, 0055-31-2129-1300, www.biodiversitas.org.br

 

(Washington, D.C.) American Bird Conservancy and its Brazilian partner Fundação Biodiversitas have acquired almost 1,000 acres of a unique and isolated stand of endangered Brazilian Atlantic forest, and plan to save what little more that remains in an area that is one the great biodiversity hotspots in South America. The new protected area, to be named after the Stresemann's Bristlefront, represents the sole sanctuary for this critically endangered bird species imminently facing extinction.

“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.

 

Bristlefront Forest Reserve
 
Bahia, Brazil
     
The recently acquired Stresemann's Bristlefront Forest Reserve (on left) in Bahia, Brazil is surrounded by a landscape (on right) denuded by logging and intensive grazing. Photos by: Fabiano Melo and 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 harbor 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 Gláucia Drummond, Technical Superintendent of Biodiversitas.

 

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.

 

Bristlefront
Stresemann’s Bristlefront had only been identified twice before when it was rediscovered in 1995. The species inhabits humid forests in Bahia, Brazil that are rapidly disappearing. Photo credit: American Bird Conservancy.

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.

 

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 imperiled 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.”

 

Rômulo Ribon, a Brazilian avian specialist from the Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto who rediscovered Stresemann's Bristlefront on this and neighboring neighboring 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.

 

List of threatened mammal and bird species recently been documented in the Arrebol Forest region in Bandeira, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

MAMMALS STATUS
Yellow-breasted Capuchin CR
Spiny Rat EN (described 2002)
Maned Three-toed Sloth EN
Giant Armadillo EN
Thin-spined Porcupine VU
Mountain Lion VU

BIRDS STATUS
Stresemann's Bristlefront CR
Brown-backed Parrotlet EN
Red-browed Amazon EN
Hook-billed Hermit EN
Banded Cotinga EN
Bahia Tyrannulet EN
White-necked Hawk VU
Blue-chested Parakeet VU
Three-toed Jacamar VU
Plumbeous Antvireo VU
Band-tailed Antwren VU
Black-headed Berryeater VU
Bare-throated Bellbird VU
Bahia Spinetail VU
Striated Softtail VU
Pink-legged Graveteiro VU
Fork-tailed Pygmy-tyrant VU
Solitary Tinamou NT
Mantled Hawk NT
Harpy Eagle NT
Spot-breasted Antvireo NT
Rio de Janeiro Antbird NT
Buff-throated Purpletuft NT
Blackish-blue Seedeater NT
Rufous-tailed Antbird NT

CR = Critically Endangered, EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable,
NT = Near Threatened According to World Conservation Union (IUCN) criteria. See www.redlist.org for more information.

 

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American Bird Conservancy works to conserve native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts to safeguard the rarest bird species, restore habitats, and reduce threats, while building capacity in the conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.

 

Fundação Biodiversitas is a Brazilian non-profit, non-governmental environmental organization dedicated exclusively to the conservation of biodiversity, with an emphasis on threatened and endangered species.