|The Araguaia Nature Corridor Project||Unique ecosystems with rich biodiversity|
What is a ‘nature corridor‘?
A nature corridor is a strip of land that aids in the movement of species between disconnected areas of their natural habitat. Habitat fragmentation due to human development is an ever-increasing threat to biodiversity, and nature corridors are a solution.
We prefer to use the term ‘biodiversity corridor‘. Biodiversity corridors are major regional planning units comprising a mosaic of land uses and conservation key areas.
Biodiversity corridors are important for large species, such as the jaguar, requiring significant sized ranges; however, they are also vital as connection corridors for smaller animals and plants as well as ecological connectors.
In the case of the Araguaia Corridor, it connects the Cerrado savanna with the Amazon rainforest. As for the Cerrado Savanna, more than 90% of its original natural habitat has already been destroyed for agricultural purposes.
The scope of this project is astonishing : 2.600 km long and up to 40km wide (20km on each side of the river). The corridor will save thousands of species and give birth to the reforestation of tens of millions of indigenous trees, converting agricultural land back to original habitat of the jaguar.
The Corridor Region:
The river banks of the Araguaia & Tocantins Rivers form such a potential corridor. Its source is located close to Emas National Park, one of the last refuges for jaguars in the Cerrado. Other protected areas along the rivers are also potential refuges for jaguars, as the species’ presence has been confirmed along most of both rivers’ 2,600-km reach.
The Araguaia river is Brazil's third-largest river outside of the Amazon basin. Its 2,000 km divide four Brazilian states (Goiás, Mato Grosso, Tocantins, Pará). The parks, reserves and indigenous lands distributed along its course turn the Araguaia into one of the most conserved river of Brazil, with a rich biodiversity.
Its major importance lies in the fact that along its entire course there is not a single hydroelectric dam. Thus, its landscape and land use pattern permits the movement of fauna along its banks, constituting an important corridor for the native fauna and flora on an ecosystem scale. For threatened species, especially those that depend on large areas with native vegetation for movement, like the jaguar, the Araguaia Corridor provides important habitat for establishing home ranges and dispersion. Considering all physical and geographical characteristics of the Corridor Region, it is of extreme importance that it is managed and protected as a whole, from its springs to its mouth.
The Alliance of Corridor Partners:
In the past seven years, scientific studies have been carried out by JCF and the Corridor Partner ‘Earthwatch Institute‘ to explore the corridor region, determine the scope of the corridor, and establish conservation and implementation strategies. In 2008, once the Araguaia Corridor project had been set up, the Brazilian Ministry of Environment (IBAMA) also joined. In 2010, the Black Jaguar Foundation became a member of the Corridor-Alliance of Partners, taking on specific and challenging tasks for this project.
1) JCF - Jaguar Conservation Fund Brazil
- Initiator and overall coordination of the entire project.
- Scientific research-team to prove the importance of the corridor’s
unique ecosystem, based on the 5 key species.
- Investigate the solution for the new socio-economic situation.
2) IBAMA - Brazilian Govermental Institute of Environment
- Responsible for the execution, regulation, and control of environmental policies in Brazil
3) Earthwatch Institute
- International environmental organization
4) BJF - Black Jaguar Foundation
- BJF Documentaries project:
Drive global and local awareness and activation for the importance of the Corridor.
- BJF Corridor-Mapping project :
field-work and research to map and identify all owners ( individuals or companies ) 20 km inland from both riverbanks. A total area of over 10,4 million hecares of land.
- BJF Reforestation Fund project :
advising landowners which indigenous trees to replant. Secondly to finance the process of replanting new born trees. This project will be carried in close cooperation with the other Corridor partners.
5) IDESA Brasil
Social and political linking
Strategy & Partnerships
Effective conservation of a region requires strategies that combine knowledge of its biodiversity and the factors that threaten it, the identification of innovative and sustainable solutions for environmental problems, and establishing partnerships to implement actions and monitor implemented actions.
Believing in the viability of the Araguaia River as a strategic source of cultural and socio-economic richness, and biodiversity, the Jaguar Conservation Fund (JCF) formed partnerships to develop the Araguaia Biodiversity Corridor Project - with the general objective to establish a long term management, conservation and monitoring program.
The 5 indicator species of the Araguaia Corridor:
- the jaguar
- the pink river dolphin
- the giant otter
- the black caiman
- the piraíba ( giant catfish )
Basically, 4 phases towards realization of the Corridor can be distinguished:
1. Analyzing – Planning – Research – PR
-Determine and monitor distribution of the 5 key-species along the corridor.
-Evaluate factors that may affect key-species distribution in the medium term.
-Predict future distribution by evaluating connectivity between habitat fragments.
2. Involving local communities, landowners and farmers
Involve and activate communities, farmers, land-owners et. to make them participant of the Corridor. Either by reforestation or allocation of 20% of their land into a 'Legal Reserve' or 'Permanent Preservation Area' to be included as integral part of the Corridor-Zone.
3. Reforestation and Preservation
Ultimately, the local communities, their inhabitants, the indigenous industrial farmers, all those who live and work within the corridor zone, are the key to the success of this massive conservation and reforestation project.
Monitoring the corridor zone once protected, based on biological, landscape and socio-economic aspects
Status of the project as of 2012:
As of today, there have been over 30 expeditions over the past 7 years and the first 130km of the Corridor has been realized. These scientific expeditions, part of Phase I included collection of data about the socio-economic profile, research about the freshwater dolphin, jaguar and the giant catfish known as piraíba.
To preserve the Araguaia River and promote it to the category of a Biodiversity Corridor, contributing to perpetuate its biological, economic and social importance - that is the challenge of this project.
So far, 98% of the people living in the envisioned corridor region in Brazil are not yet aware of the Alliance’s plans. Outside Brazil, this ambitious conservation project is not known at all. Therefore, a strong PR campaign will need to be developed. Documentaries and short online informative films form an important part of such a PR campaign and will be tasks of the BJF
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