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By taking action through our site, you help protect land through the following projects:

Atlantic Rainforest of Paraguay

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photos © Terry Whittaker & Miguel Morales

The Rainforest Site is working with the World Parks Endowment to protect one of the most endangered rainforest areas in the world, by helping to purchase a major private land parcel in the Atlantic Rainforest of Paraguay, which forms the core of the San Rafael National Park. This 3500 hectare (8,750 acres) parcel of tall forest also includes areas of wetlands and grassland habitats which increases the bio-diversity of the site.

San Rafael protects a wide array of endangered and endemic Atlantic Rainforest species. Over 310 species of birds have been recorded including the rare Crested Eagle. 40 species of large mammal have been found in this area of Paraguay, including the globally threatened giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), and giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), as well as the rare maned wolf, Brazilian tapir, and jaguar.

The San Rafael National Park site is very important to conservation because it protects one of the best remaining tracts of Atlantic rainforest. In the last 10 years over 32% of the privately held forest in the park has been selectively logged, and unless conservation action is taken, much forest will disappear over the next decade.

The Atlantic Forest of south-eastern Brazil, northeastern Argentina and eastern Paraguay is a distinct region of primarily humid tropical forest, separated from the forests of Amazonia by the drier Caatinga and Cerrado regions. The forests of this region form a clearly defined center of biological endemism for many taxa, including birds, mammals, reptiles, butterflies and plants. Floral diversity is very high: over 50% of the tree species alone are thought to be unique to the Atlantic Forest. It is also one of the two richest regions in the Neotropics for avian endemism, with 200 species found nowhere else in the world. The Atlantic Forest is, however, one of the most threatened forest ecosystem in the Americas, if not globally.

The Atlantic Forest region was one of the first to be colonized by Europeans and today is the most densely populated area of Brazil. After 400 years of developments, the forests have literally been chopped to pieces: even the most conservative estimates consider no more than 12% of the original cover to remain, and as little as 1-2% may exist in a relatively virgin state.

As a consequence, the Atlantic Forest flora and fauna is highly threatened. Of its 200 endemic bird species, 60 are considered globally threatened with extinction - 20% of all the threatened species known from the Americas.

A similar number of endemics are considered near-threatened. There can be no doubt that some of the endemic species have already become extinct, the majority of them unknown to science. Many more will continue to do so. Even in relatively well known groups such as birds, new species continue to be described - ten in the past ten years from the Atlantic Forests alone. The high concentration of endemic species, combined with the severe forest loss makes the Atlantic Forest region one of the highest global conservation priorities.

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Interior Atlantic Forest
The Atlantic Forest is estimated to have once covered over 2 million km2. It can be divided into two broad types: the tropical humid forests of the coastal Brazilian lowlands and mountains; and the subtropical semideciduous forests of the interior, extending westward from the coast. The forests of eastern Paraguay and north-eastern Argentina form part of this "Interior Atlantic Forest", also known as "Selva Paranaense" or "Selva Misionera". These forests once covered 804,00 km2, but by 1991 only 58,000 km2 remained (7% of the original cover), and forest clearance continues unabated. Deforestation has been most severe in Brazil, where as little as 2% of the original cover remains, and virtually none of that exists outside of established protected areas. Many of the best opportunities for protecting the forests of the region now lie in Paraguay and Argentina.

For More Information:

 - World Parks Endowment
   Paraguayan partners are Guyra Paraguay and the Natural Land Trust.

The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

Mexico holds approximately 10% of all plants and animals of the world. Only Brazil and Indonesia hold more species than Mexico. Unfortunately, many plants and animals are endangered with extinction mainly becauseof population growth,slash and burnagriculture, cattle activities, and illegal trade. To protect its biological heritage Mexico has implemented a National System of Protected Areas, covering most ecosystems throughout the country.

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With more than 1,700,000 acres, the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is the second largest protected area in Mexico.

The Friends of Calakmul, Inc. is a US-based, non-profit organization dedicated to saving the endangered habitat of the jaguar in Mexico. Their goal is to provide local land owners with an economic option to conserve rather than exploit this habitat. Their first agreement (August, 2001) with the Ejido of Xcupil-cacab, Mexico placed a conservation easement on 160,000 acres.

This is the area that funding from The Rainforest Site will protect. The agreement places a conservation easement on all land owned by the Ejido, approximately 65,000 hectares of forest land located in the western part of the Buffer Zone of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.The conservation easement restricts the use of the land to conservation only, limiting extraction of any kind. The land supports a large number of jaguars andthousands of other species. It is also home to the pyramids of Calakmul, the tallest of the "Mundo Maya".

For More Information:

 - Friends of Calakmul
 - Maps, including detailed satellite maps of Calakmul Biosphere Reserve
 - Click here to see pictures of Calakmul
 - Center for Conservation Biology, Stanford University

 - Articles
   · "Into the Jaguar's Den", Scientific American (Sept 2001)
   · "The Cat That Walks By Itself", Smithsonian Magazine (Oct 2000)

 - Wildlife Conservation Society

 - Research papers:
   · Article 1 [ pdf ] [ html ]
   · Article 2 [ pdf ] [ html ]
   · A jaguar story by Dr. Ceballos:[ pdf ] [ html ]

* You will need the Acrobat Reader to view pdf files.
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Protect the Peruvian Amazon

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photos © RCF
  Reserva Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo

The Rainforest Site is supporting the Rainforest Conservation Fund's effort to expand the Reserva Comunal Tamshiyacu-Tahuayo in the Peruvian Amazon. This is one of the largest communal reserves in South America, and one of the most biologically diverse in the world, supporting 14 species of primates, the most ever recorded.

The reserve is comprised of several types of lowland Amazonian forest: igapó, varzea, and terra firme. This is one of the only areas in the Amazon Basin where these forest types can be found in close proximity, and no doubt is a major factor in the area's incredible biodiversity. Among the animals found here are pink river dolphin, manatee, jaguar, ocelot, margay, giant otter, and paiche (the world's largest freshwater fish), and an amazing variety of birds (over 700 species are known in Loreto), including harpy eagle.

The reserve is an exceptional storehouse of biodiversity, even as rainforests go, because it is part of what biologists identify as the Napo area of endemism (specific area of native flora and fauna). This area stretches north and west from the reserve, and is the most species rich in the world in a number of categories, including trees, amphibians, reptiles, and birds (see Gentry, 1988: Ridgely and Tudor, 1989). These factors along with the Pleistocene refugia and river dynamics probably all contribute to this exceptionally diverse assemblage of primates. As conservation efforts focus on biodiversity and species endemism, we must also consider the endemic nature of species assemblages. Exceptionally diverse areas are themselves an endemic occurrence (Solbrig, 1991).

In the last year, RCF and their Peruvian allies have been working to expand the reserve on its northeastern side, along the Yavar' Miri and Yavar' Rivers. The main reason for this is to protect an area of forest that is the home to large populations of threatened or endangered fauna including red uakari monkeys, giant river otters, manatees, tapir, primates, the huge air-breathing fish (Arapaima gigas), and giant river turtles (Podcnemis expansa).

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The green area on this map shows the area of needed expansion

This forest is exceptionally undisturbed by humans, but must now be protected as we enter the 21st century because of the inevitable settlement and development forces that will emerge in these remote areas of Peru and Brazil. The local people (both native and mestizo), living in villages some 60 kilometers from the present border of reserve are in favor of this expansion, because it would help them to live in their traditional ways by protecting them from encroaching settlers.

The Peruvian Department of Conservation in the Region of Loreto is assisting the effort to expand the reserve. The plans would essentially double the size of the reserve (from 800,000 acres to 1.6 millon acres), while protecting some of the most remote and fauna-rich lands in the Amazon. RCF has been supporting the research and extension efforts which led to this new development, and is actively supporting the surveys, map-making, and legal work that will be needed to complete this effort. Your clicks on The Rainforest Site help to pay for this work, along with money to monitor the existing reserve and provide sustainable community development and limited health care facilities for the surrounding villages.

For More Information:

- The Rainforest Conservation Fund
   Species Data:
   · Mammals
   · Birds
   · Amphibians & Reptiles