Selva de Pino Paraná: Protecting threatened species|
of the Atlantic Forest region in Argentina
In more depth...
Project Partners and PersonnelOur 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.
BackgroundAbout 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 ParanáIndividuals 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.
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.
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.
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).