Nature Canadas Paraguay project
The Atlantic Forest of southeast Brazil, northeast Argentina and eastern Paraguay is one of the most threatened yet biologically diverse ecosystems in the world. Once covering approximately 1.7 million square kilometres, only 7.4 per cent now remains, mostly as scattered fragments. This extreme loss of habitat threatens the extinction of the majority of fauna and flora in the Atlantic Forest. Of the 181 endemic bird species, 60 are considered globally threatened and a similar number near threatened. Due to this exceptional concentration of endemic species combined with the exceptional loss of habitat, the Atlantic Forest is one of the top five hotspots for biodiversity conservation in the world.
Nature Canada (one of two BirdLife International partners in Canada) and Guyra Paraguay (our BirdLife partner in Paraguay) have developed an innovative climate change project in the critically endangered Interior Atlantic Forest ecosystems of Paraguay. Despite one of the highest national deforestation rates of any Latin American country, some 13.4 per cent (or 14,789 square kilometres) of the original cover still remains in this forest. Our multi-year multidisciplinary climate change project integrates sustainable economic development, the conservation of biodiversity, and climate change mitigation.
Ensuring the sustainability of land-use practices and improving the conservation status of these Atlantic Forest ecosystems will protect and enhance their carbon sequestration potentialan important component of climate change mitigation locally and globally.
Our project is helping Paraguayans learn to measure and monitor the carbon sequestration capacity of the Interior Atlantic Forest. Doing this cooperatively helps both our countries support and participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Clean Development Mechanism.
To date, the project team has implemented activities in eight communities adjacent to four key conservation sites in eastern Paraguay.
In 2004 Nature Canada and Guyra Paraguay were successful in gaining support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to continue working with two of these Paraguayan communities.
Our current project promotes the development of sustainable livelihoods and diversifies community agricultural production. These, in turn, enhance food security and household income, promote integrated natural resource management, and lead to a reversal of current trends of environmental degradation.
The project team plans to implement existing community business plans for improved agricultural production and storage, and develop new business plans for niche markets, such as organic shade-grown yerba maté. By the end of the project period, we anticipate that community welfare (income, health, nutrition) will have significantly improved, while pressure on the surrounding forests will have decreased.