(Washington, D.C., November 19, 2021) A 470-acre reserve now protects an exceptional area of the Cantão region in Central Brazil, where flooded Amazon forests in the Araguaia Valley meet rich Cerrado (tropical savannah) lowlands. Brazilian NGO Instituto Araguaia led the creation of the Guaíra Reserve, with support from American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and the IUCN Netherlands Committee. More than 450 bird species occur here, including the globally threatened Chestnut-bellied Guan and Kaempfer's Woodpecker, as well as other endemic species such as the Bananal Antbird and Araguaia Spinetail. Jaguar and Giant Anteater are also known to inhabit the region.
The Amazonian side of the Cantão is protected and has never been logged. With a towering canopy of over 65 feet, the area also features pristine marshes and a group of oxbow lakes where Endangered Giant Otters den and Amazon River Dolphins forage. Unfortunately, the Cerrado side has been heavily impacted by agriculture, and more than 200 square miles have been cleared for agriculture in the Cantão in the last eight years alone.
The Guaíra Reserve is part of the Cantão-Cerrado conservation corridor — a mosaic of private lands, reserves, and other landscapes that Instituto Araguaia is working to connect for the benefit of wide-ranging wildlife. The corridor is located at the northern tip of the Bananal wetlands, which is designated as a Ramsar Wetland of Global Importance and is part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
In addition to protecting and managing an increasing number of reserves in this critical area for biodiversity, Araguaia provides educational and research opportunities and works to build local support for conservation. With ABC support, the group recently completed several infrastructure improvements in the Guaíra Reserve, including a kitchen and cabin that enabled Araguaia to expand its team of ranger-firefighters to six. These additional rangers will patrol and prevent fires at the reserves Araguaia manages, including a 358-acre reserve acquired earlier in 2021.
Araguaia has also constructed an Interpretive Center with a rooftop observatory and a series of displays, and is installing infrastructure on the nearly four-mile network of trails in its reserves. As COVID-19 numbers are finally decreasing across Brazil, the Interpretive Center will be inaugurated in early 2022.
ABC is committed to working with partners throughout the Americas to create reserves that protect the rarest bird species, as well as to maintain and expand conservation corridors such as Cantão-Cerrado. These corridors are the result of data-driven work that reveals just how connected our planet's ecosystems are, and how ABC and our partners must consider whole landscapes as we protect the most threatened species.
ABC is grateful to Jennifer Speers, C. David Cook, and the estate of Mary Janvrin for their generous support for this project.
American Bird Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. With an emphasis on achieving results and working in partnership, we take on the greatest problems facing birds today, innovating and building on rapid advancements in science to halt extinctions, protect habitats, eliminate threats, and build capacity for bird conservation. Find us on abcbirds.org, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@ABCbirds).
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