Kaempfer's Woodpecker Conservation Project Takes Off

ABC has joined with Brazilian partner Instituto Araguaia and the IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands in an innovative approach to conserving habitat for the Kaempfer's Woodpecker, an Endangered species inhabiting the Cerrado of central Brazil. The Cerrado is the second most threatened biome in that country, after the Atlantic Forest.

Kaempfer's Woodpecker. Photo by Ciro Albano.

Kaempfer's Woodpecker. Photo by Ciro Albano

Instituto Araguaia will lease 470 acres of Cerrado from landowners adjacent to Cantão State Park. During this ten-year lease, Instituto Araguaia will convert the land's status to an RPPN (Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural, or Private Natural Heritage Reserve). After the lease ends, the property will revert to the original owners, but the RPPN will remain, forever protecting this important habitat.

This project comes at a critically important time. In 2013 alone, more than 148,000 acres of Cerrado in this region of Brazil were converted to soybean farms. As agriculture has expanded, land prices have risen, making it difficult for conservation organizations to purchase land for protection. This project's novel approach may serve as a new model for conservation in the Cerrado.

Kaempfer's Woodpecker. Photo by Tulio Dernas.

Kaempfer's Woodpecker. Photo by Tulio Dernas

The new private reserve will protect the Kaempfer's Woodpecker and many other birds, including the Agami Heron and Harpy Eagle, as well as two newly discovered frog species. It is also extremely important to the area's terrestrial mammals as a flood refuge for the adjacent 222,000-acre Cantão State Park, 80 percent of which floods each April.