Eye on conservation: Valuable land added to species-rich reserve in Brazil

1/16/2014 | 0

Red-necked Tanager occurs only in eastern South America and can be seen at Serra Bonita. Photo by Dave Krueper.

Red-necked Tanager occurs only in eastern South America and can be seen at Serra Bonita. Photo by Dave Krueper.

Six rare birds listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, publisher of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, will benefit from an expansion of Brazil’s Serra Bonita Reserve.

The reserve sits in an area already designated an Important Bird Area. It is located in the Serra Bonita Mountain Range, one of the last remnants of moist submontane Atlantic rain­ forest in the eastern state of Bahia. The range is part of the once­-vast Brazilian Atlantic Forest biome, which contains the highest levels of biological diversity and endemism in the entire Western Hemisphere.

Wildlife surveys conducted across an area roughly five times the size of New York’s Central Park have found 330 species of birds, 458 species of trees, and the world’s greatest collection of moths and butterflies. The area is estimated to contain a staggering 5,000 species, more than the number found in all of North America.

About 400 species of birds inhabit the entire mountain range. Nine are threatened, and 59 are endemic to the Atlantic Forest. The six birds of conservation concern are the en­dangered Bahia Tyrannulet and the vulnerable Pink-­legged Graveteiro, Plumbeous Antvireo, and Salvadori’s Antwren, and two vulnerable seedeaters attracted to the area’s seeding bamboo: Buffy­-fronted Seedeater and Temminck’s Seedeater.

Listen to the en­dangered Bahia Tyrannulet.

Sadly, the region is still subject to high rates of habi­tat loss and is ranked as one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world. The Serra Bonita Reserve protects only a fragment. The Atlantic Forest has lost more than 93 percent of its original cover (most of that in the last 50 years), and the devastation continues at an alarming rate. Fortunately, the Serra Bonita Mountain Range is still well conserved. Approximately 50 percent of the land cover is a pristine forest of extreme biological importance.

The acquisition of 237 acres of additional reserve lands was a joint effort involving ABC, Instituto Uiraçu, and Rainforest Trust and funding from a host of groups. All income generated at the reserve goes toward maintenance and further conservation.

american-bird-conservancy-logo--140x84This story was provided by American Bird Conservancy, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. For information about visiting the Serra Bonita Reserve, contact Clemira Souza at clemirasouza@gmail.com.

A version of this article appeared in the February 2014 issue of BirdWatching magazine.

See the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.