Brazil Reserve Expansion Increases Protection for Dwindling Atlantic Forest Habitat
American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has taken another step to secure habitat for some of the Americas' rarest birds, this time by supporting local partner SAVE Brasil's purchase of intact Atlantic Forest habitat in northeastern Brazil. The 181-acre purchase was completed in August and expands the private Pedra D'Antas Reserve, situated in the critically important Serra do Urubu forest, to a total of 1,058 acres. This addition is particularly exciting because the land is now designated a “Private Heritage Nature Reserve,” a status indicating that it is protected forever for habitat conservation.
Managed by SAVE Brasil, Pedra D'Antas is home to more than 250 bird species, fourteen of which are globally threatened. Endangered and Critically Endangered species that live within the reserve, like the Scalloped Antbird, Alagoas Antwren, and Orange-bellied Antwren, are endemic and found only in this region.
The newly expanded reserve is a lifeline for birds in the area, encompassing more than half of Serra do Urubu's Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. Such protections are critical, as only two percent of the Atlantic Forest in northeastern Brazil remains intact, and the area's forests are heavily fragmented. Over the last few decades, unsustainable agricultural and tree harvesting for charcoal have transformed the landscape. Thanks to efforts by SAVE Brasil and ABC, however, existing forest within Pedra D'Antas will remain intact and degraded land will be restored. The reserve will provide a safe haven and increased connectivity between forest fragments for the region's rich birdlife in perpetuity.
“The purchase was only possible due to the ABC's support over the past years,” said Bárbara Cavalcante, Northeastern Atlantic Forest Project Coordinator for SAVE Brasil. “Expanding the reserve strengthens us to keep working hard to secure the effective protection of the whole Serra do Urubu forest and the Atlantic Forest of this landscape.”
In areas of Pedra D'Antas where the habitat has been degraded, SAVE Brasil is already working to restore the forest to its full historic levels of biodiversity. This year alone, the organization's Northeastern Atlantic Forest Project planted nearly 9,000 saplings in the reserve across 165 acres. The new expansion will enable tree-planting efforts to spread across a wider area.
SAVE Brasil and ABC have also worked together to increase ecotourism opportunities to help sustainably fund tree planting and other conservation actions. In 2017, ABC supported the creation of a hummingbird garden to encourage birdwatchers to visit the reserve. To date, 23 species of hummingbird have been observed at the garden, along with more than 100 other bird species. In 2019, ABC funded a forest canopy observation tower to offer more viewing opportunities.
Soon, SAVE Brasil hopes to employ local guides and build a visitors lodge to enable even more exploration of this lush forest, and to create economic opportunities for community members in the area.
“We urgently must secure large enough areas of Brazilian Northeastern Atlantic Forest to maintain this precious ecosystem,” said Bennett Hennessey, Brazil Conservation Program Coordinator for ABC. “This reserve extension could be vital for certain species, strengthening the area's ecological rigor.”
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).