Project: Selva de Pino Paraná: Protecting threatened species
of the Atlantic Forest region in Argentina
Background | Purpose | Actions

  In Brief  

Location: San Pedro department, Misiones province, Argentina
Timeframe: March-November 2015
Goal: To conserve threatened species, birds especially, in the Atlantic Forest biodiversity hotspot.
Threats: Twenty species of globally threatened or near-threatened birds share their habitat with small-holder farmers in this province. Farming and logging are inadvertently reducing the availability of large old trees required by parrots and other birds that nest in tree cavities as well as bamboo stands required by threatened bamboo-specialist birds. Education and involvement of farmers in conservation can turn this around.
Achievements:
  • Participants in the outreach programs are gaining confidence in their abilities to identify and help conserve threatened species.
  • Outreach programs in schools have been broadened to reach a wider group.
  • Young conservationists are receiving training and education opportunities
Cost: $13,810 CAD   (100% of cost)
Size of area
involved:
~1000 km2 (~100,000 hectares)


Endangered Vinaceous Amazon adult and nestling in their tree-cavity nest at Parque Provincial Cruce Caballero. (Photo: Juan Klavins)
Photo credit (except where otherwise indicated): Proyecto Selva de Pino Parana


In more depth...

Project Partners and Personnel

Our partner is the team of volunteers from Proyecto Selva de Pino Paraná, which is coordinated by Kristina Cockle, research scientist at IBIGEO-CONICET, and naturalist Alejandro Bodrati. Biologist Bianca Bonaparte and agro-ecologist Clara Fernández lead the outreach activities in schools, with help from aspiring teacher Anita Alvarez and volunteers from the local park ranger college. Farmer Abilio Rodríguez assists with outreach on farms.

Background

About 99 percent of the Atlantic Forest has been cleared or degraded by logging, driving major declines of many birds. In San Pedro department, Argentina, 20 species of globally threatened or near-threatened birds share their habitat with small-holder farmers. Farming and logging are reducing the availability of large old trees required by parrots and other birds that nest in tree cavities, and bamboo stands required by threatened bamboo-specialist birds. Interviews conducted in recent years indicate that many local people overlook habitat loss and degradation as serious threats to endangered species. Most primary school students, and many of their teachers, consider hunting to be the principal or only threat to native forest wildlife. In addition, many take for granted the services provided by native forest, including firewood, construction materials, protection of their drinking water, shade, and protection from the wind.

This project is demonstrating it is possible to slow forest degradation and protect endangered bird habitat, through education and opportunities for small-holder farmers to participate in conservation. The outreach program complements ongoing scientific and natural history research by Kristina Cockle (IBIGEO-CONICET) and Alejandro Bodrati (Fundación Félix de Azara).

In 2003, Kristina Cockle and colleagues started field research in the province of Misiones, Argentina to determine habitat requirements and threat status of endemic Atlantic Forest birds. They quickly realized that urgent conservation action was needed to stop the decline of endangered Vinaceous Parrots. They mobilized a small group of researchers and volunteers to begin "Proyecto Selva de Pino Paraná" and launched an outreach program involving local small-holder farmers and school children as protagonists in conservation.

Role of research in Proyecto Selva de Pino Paraná

Individuals involved in this ongoing effort (Proyecto Selva de Pino Paraná) conduct research, educate the public locally and internationally, and encourage the active and appropriate participation of local small-holder farmers in wildlife conservation. Currently, research focuses on understanding the interactions among woodpeckers, parrots and other bird species that nest in tree cavities, the natural history and ecology of bamboo-specialist birds, and the constraints and opportunities faced by farmers in conserving forest on their land. Research findings directly inform the outreach program, in which project personnel educate the public about endangered species and extinction, and empower them to conserve these species by providing opportunities to participate.

Purpose

to promote the conservation of threatened species in their Atlantic forest habitat in the province of Misiones, Argentina. Specific objectives:
  1. To evaluate the results of previous outreach work in primary schools and highschools
  2. To broaden the outreach program to reach a wider group of teachers and students in San Pedro department (primary school through college). These teachers and students should learn to recognize endangered species present in their localities, and gain confidence in their abilities to help conserve these species.
  3. To provide training and education opportunities for young conservationists.

Actions

  • Evaluation of Results of Previous Outreach. In 2013 and 2014, project personnel developed fun educational activities and materials for teachers and students, delivered in full-day visits to 12 schools. In 2015, the same 12 schools were re-visited in addition to 7 new schools. Students' ability to identify and recognize the threat status of local species at previously visited and new schools was evaluated.

    Preliminary data analysis from early 2015 indicates that 15% of students at schools that were visited in 2014 recalled the name of the Helmeted Woodpecker in 2015, and 40% recalled the name of the White-bearded Antshrike (vs. no students at schools that had not been visited). Students at schools that were visited in 2014 performed, on average, 16% better than students at schools that had not been visited, at classifying species to their correct IUCN category.

  • Broadening of outreach program. In 2015 the outreach program was expanded to six new high schools and one new elementary school. Thirty-eight workshops have been completed in highschools, with a total of 1189 students. Fifteen workshops were completed in elementary schools, with a total of 218 students in attendance.

    Workshops are delivered through multiple media types: powerpoint presentations, small group projects/assignments, story-telling and theatrical plays in which students become the actors who make decisions about farm and forest management. Workshops are delivered at both rural and urban schools.

  • Training for Young Conservationists. More than 200 young conservationists have participated in this project since 2003; many are now conservation professionals, including Nestor Fariña, who is the project leader for another ICFC- supported project, Rincón Santa María

    During the 2015 work, two young conservationists (Bianca Bonaparte and Clara Fernández) led the outreach program in highschools. At the elementary schools, they are joined by six students from the local colleges (education and park ranger programs).

    Track Record of Success

    The over 50 peer-reviewed publications by researchers involved in this project have led to changes in international Red List status and concrete conservation recommendations for regional and national stakeholders. As a result of their outreach activities, farmers who previously captured Vinaceous Parrots for pets now help monitor them, and 37 families have invested in the future population by planting over 2000 native trees on their farms. Another result of this work is that Aves Argentinas (BirdLife International Partner in Argentina) secured $50,000 to purchase land for conservation within the project area.

    Long-term plans and impact

    Long-term plans are to continue research on threatened birds in Misiones at least until 2016 and continue to respond with the types of outreach activities that have already proven effective. Over the longer term of the project, outreach activities are expected to result in a shift in thinking by local farmers, toward protection of endangered species and their habitat. It is hoped that farmers will take steps to conserve key habitats on their farms, and conservationists will learn to better help them do so. The ultimate goal is to achieve conservation of 20 endangered bird species in the mosaic landscape between existing protected areas in Misiones, a landscape that currently includes nesting trees and Atlantic forest patches and corridors, key stepping stones and habitat that allow these birds to persist in the province.  



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