• Photo: Nestor Fariña

    Rincón Santa María: Restoring habitat for threatened species in Argentina

In Brief

Location:

Puerto de Iguazú, Corrientes province, Argentina

Goal:

To restore native habitat for threatened bird species in the Southern Cone Mesopotamian Savanna ecoregion of Argentina

Threats:

Invasive, exotic Pine and Eucalyptus trees are aggressively displacing native vegetation and changing the conditions that are required by a number of threatened and endangered species.

Size of Area Involved:

2500 hectares

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Actions & Results:

  • Construction of a plant nursery and cultivation of native trees and shrubs for re-planting

  • Planting of native vegetation in degraded areas, mimicking the structures and consistencies of local native forest stands

  • Removal of exotics and control of their propogation

Cost:

$12,480 USD (100% of cost)

Nursery for native trees.  photo: Nestor Fariña

Video

Slideshow on the project advances made in 2015 in Reserva Natural Rincon Santa Maria.

In More Depth...

Project Partners and Personnel

Our partner is a team of naturalists and volunteers working in the Reserva Natural Rincón Santa María. Park rangers Nestor Fariña, Olga Villalba and Lisandro Cardinale are the leaders of the effort and two staff have been hired to work on this project only. Nestor Fariña, our point-person for the project, trained as a conservationist with Proyecto Selva de Pino Paraná.

Background

The Reserva Natural Rincón Santa María is located in the northeast of the province of Corrientes, Argentina. The reserve covers an area of 2500 hectares of Mesopotamian Savanna, and small forest stands in intermediate ecological succession.

The area boasts high ecological value due to its importance for endemic and migratory birds in particular. It protects more than 250 species of birds, 12 of which are globally threatened. Numerous nearctic migratory species spend part of the year on the reserve including the Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda), Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa spp.), Plubeous Kite (Ictinia plumbea), Mississippi Kite (Ictinia mississippiensis), Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor).

A study that took place over a recent 5-year period put certain bird species in the spotlight for conservation concern, including some of those mentioned above. There is current research underway to better understand the population size and dynamics of the rare and poorly known Sickle-winged Nightjar (Eleothreptus anomalus), whose largest known population in Argentina is within this reserve. The reserve also protects an important population of Common Nighthawks (Chordeiles minor), whose breeding populations are known to have fallen precipitously in recent years, according to research by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Between the months of January and April, this species can be found on the reserve in considerable numbers.

The most significant conservation problem that the area is facing is the invasion of exotic pine and eucalyptus trees. They are aggressive competitors with native trees, and change the degree of humidity in the soil, an important feature of this ecoregion. This affects all native plant species, and the habitat .available to the aforementioned bird species. Research has indicated that threatened bird species prefer to use and occupy the ecologically intact areas of the reserve, and are avoiding the areas that have been invaded by pine trees in particular. The graduatl propogation of pines is therefore limiting suitable habitat for birds on the reserve. Numbers of both the Common Nighthawk and Sickle-Winged Nightjar have decreased in the last 3 years, according to the surveys mentioned above.

Actions & Results
  • Native tree seedlings. Staff and volunteers collected native tree seedlings from healthy native forest stands within the reserve. A nursery (with 5000 seedling capacity) was built and 2500 seeds of 16 native species were planted. Dates of planting, germination and growth success is being monitored by the staff members.
  • Invasive tree removal. By the end of 2015, about 300 hectares of the reserve has had exotic tree species removed by reserve staff, project staff and volunteers. This was a major undertaking as it requires travelling over difficult terrain with heavy equipment to cover such a large area.
  • Native habitat restoration. Surveys of healthy forest stands within the reserve were completed to better understand the structure of the vegetation so it may be imitated in restored forest stands. Three hundred native tree seedlings of 6 species were planted in the first half of 2015, distributed over 5 parcels. Success and establishment of these planted trees will be monitored in the coming years.

Saplings ready to plant are loaded for transport. Photo: Nestor Fariña

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