UPDATE: SITE VISIT PROVES SPECTACULAR PROGRESS FOR RESTORATION AND THE TAMARIN!
Click here to see the fascinating satellite imagery and photographs demonstrating the significant progress for this project!
UPDATE: VIDEO OF GOLDEN LION TAMARINS AND THEIR BABIES!
Click here to see video on our video page of Dr. Pimm explaining how this critically important project is restoring habitat for this spectacular creature.
GOLDEN LION TAMARIN PROJECT ACCOMPLISHMENTS
SavingSpecies Golden Lion Tamarin project helped restore one of the most endangered and unique forests on earth – the coastal Atlantic Forest in Brazil. Only three percent of the coastal forest in northeastern Brazil remains. Click here to jump to SavingSpecies’ video page. There, you can see Dr. Pimm’s interesting video presentation that provides important scientific background on the need to restore and reconnect isolated patches of tropical forest habitat for the tamarin, birds, and other wildlife.
The region is renowned for its high biodiversity. Eight thousand of its 20,000 plant species are endemic. And 450 tree species have been recorded in a single hectare. About 930 bird species live there, about 15 percent of which are found nowhere else. The biodiversity and endemism of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fishes is similarly high.
It is also the only habitat of the golden lion tamarin. This charismatic species went extinct in the wild. It then got a reprieve after being successfully reintroduced. It’s the only primate to have been so lucky.
Following the reintroduction program, there were about 1,500 golden lion tamarins in the wild. However, the reintroduction program had to be put on hold. There wasn’t enough forest for any more tamarins. SavingSpecies changed that. Read on to learn how.
Here is the original proposal submitted to gain funding via SavingSpecies.
GOLDEN LION TAMARIN PROJECT PROPOSAL
A Proposal from Save the Golden Lion Tamarin
Save the Golden Lion Tamarin is a 501(c)3 registered non-profit organization(EIN 20-2874701 and DUNS 60-387-3659). Its mission is to support the conservation work of the Associação Mico-Leão Dourado (AMLD- the Golden Lion Tamarin Association) in Brazil. AMLD is the premier NGO protecting species and expanding wildlife habitat for one of the most endangered and unique forests on earth – the Atlantic Forest.
Denise Rambaldi, Secretary General (Executive Director) Associação Mico-Leão Dourado; 1998 Muriqui Prize from the National Council of the Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlântica) Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO/Man and Biosphere Program; Chair, Southeast Region Committee and Board Member of the Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve, UNESCO MaB; Member of IBAMA (Brazilian federal government) International Committee for the Conservation and Management of Lion Tamarins, IBAMA Committee for the Conservation and Management of Callitrichid primates, IUCN/Species Survival Commission Primate Specialist Group, and São João Watershed Committee.
Lou Ann Dietz, formerly Senior Program Officer for the Atlantic Forest Ecoregion, World Wildlife Fund, currently Independent Consultant in Building Capacity for Conservation Results; President, Save the Golden Lion Tamarin; Member of the Board of Directors, Associação Mico-Leão Dourado; Member, IBAMA (Brazilian government) International Committee for the Conservation and Management of Lion Tamarins; 2001 World Wildlife Fund World of Difference Award in recognition of her role in increasing the wild population of golden lion tamarins from 200 to 1,000.
Devra Kleiman, formerly Assistant Director for Research, Smithsonian National Zoological Park; currently Independent Consultant; Adjunct Professor, University of Maryland; Senior Scientist Emeritus, Smithsonian National Zoological Park; Section Chair, North America, IUCN/SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group; Coordinator for the Golden Lion Tamarin, IBAMA (Brazilian government) International Committee for the Conservation and Management of Lion Tamarins; Vice-President, Save the Golden Lion Tamarin; 1988 Distinguished Service Award, Society for Conservation Biology.
James Dietz, Professor of Biology, University of Maryland; Co-Director, University of Maryland Graduate Program in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology; Principal Investigator for National Science Foundation – supported field research on golden lion tamarins in Brazil, 1983 to present; Associate Research Scientist, Smithsonian National Zoological Park; Member, IBAMA (Brazilian government) International Committee for the Conservation and Management of Lion Tamarins, Board of Directors of Save the Golden Lion Tamarin and Associação Mico-Leão Dourado.
Proposal Executive Summary
The Associação Mico-Leão Dourado (the Golden Lion Tamarin Association) seeks funds to purchase 140 hectares of mixed forest and cattle pasture adjacent to União Biological Reserve (REBIO União), an already existing federal protected area in the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The total asking price for the 140 hectares is US$333,000, and we believe that various people and organizations would be prepared to contribute to this purchase.
We believe that we have an excellent chance of getting funding from IUCN Netherlands, from a land purchase program called Purchase for Nature. They grant up to 85,000 euros (= US$117,000), leaving us with $216,000 to fund. We further believe that funding a substantial piece of this — say $50,000 would provide us excellent leverage to obtain the remaining funds.
SavingSpecies.org, a collective of senior conservation professions that evaluates practical conservation actions, “strongly recommends” this purchase. They consider it to have a very high potential to save many species from extinction. Moreover, they estimate that this purchase will “soak up” carbon equivalent to that emitted by a minimum of 35 average Americans and do so for about thirty years.
The most famous of the species that depend on this purchase is the golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia ) — the only primate to have temporarily escaped extinction after being successfully reintroduced into the wild. There are currently about 1500 golden lion tamarins in the wild, but the reintroduction program has been halted because of the lack of additional forest into which to put more animals. Purchase of this land would enable forest to re-grow connecting the isolated forests of REBIO União to nearby forest patches and so allow the tamarin population to expand and unite.
SavingSpecies.org estimates that 15 species of birds considered at risk of extinction by the IUCN Red List occur in REBIO União. As with the tamarins, connecting the small, isolated populations to others nearby is the best way to ensure their survival.
The purchase we propose is of considerable international significance. Conservation scientists understand that species extinctions are geographically very concentrated. Two major factors are the loss of natural habitat — some areas have lost far more than others — and the less obvious fact that some species are very much more vulnerable to extinction than are others. Professor Norman Myers defines areas to be “hotspots” on the basis of there being a sufficient number of “endemic” plants — those with small geographical ranges — and having lost at least 80% of the natural vegetation. This proposal is within the Atlantic Coastal Forest hotspot, the fourth (of 25) most highly ranked in the world on the basis of its ~8000 endemic plants and ~600 endemic vertebrates.
Myers’ idea can be geographically refined for well-known groups such as birds and mammals. The map on the previous page at the top left shows the distribution of bird species that have smaller than the median (50th percentile) range size. It is essentially a map of the vulnerable species. The top right shows the original area of tropical forest (red) and the area that now remains (green). The map at the bottom left shows the Atlantic Coastal Forest hotspot colored by the number of endemic bird species. The combination of massive forest loss and high endemism gives this region the dubious distinction of having the largest numbers of threatened birds species (as defined by the IUCN) in the New World.
The 3D map below shows this area in considerable detail. Only areas with remaining vegetation cover are colored — much of this area is deforested — and the colors reflect the numbers of threatened bird species likely to be found. Clearly, the mountaintops have more forest cover, but they have fewer species. Lowland forest is very scarce and highly fragmented. The areas with the greatest number of threatened species, (in red), and the cattle pasture we wish to purchase are to the east. Simply, we wish to protect an area that likely has the greatest number of threatened bird species, in all of the Americas .
We predict that the following threatened species might be found in these lowland patches: Lipaugus lanioides Cinnamon-vented Piha (VU for “vulnerable” according to IUCN), Leucopternis lacernulata White-necked Hawk (VU), Platyrinchus leucoryphus Russet-winged spadebill (VU), Thripophaga macroura, Striated softail Procnias nudicollis Bare-throated bellbird (VU), Calyptura cristata Kinglet Calyptura (CR for “critically endangered”)), Hemitriccus furcatus Fork-tailed Tody-Tyrant (EN for “endangered”), Onychorhynchus (coronatus) swainsoni (EN), Amazona rhodocorytha Red-browed Parrot (EN), Myrmotherula urosticta Band-tailed Antwren (EN), Xipholena atropurpurea White-winged Cotinga (EN), Pyrrhura cruentata Blue-throated Parakeet (VU), Myrmotherula minor Salvadori’s Antwren (VU), Carpornis melanocephalus Black-headed Berryeater (VU), Claravis godefrida Purple-winged Ground-Dove (EN), Sporophila falcirostris), Tangara peruviana Black-backed Tanager (VU).
The top figure above shows an aerial photograph of the proposed acquisition, with the photograph below it showing the view across the gap from the yellow arrow.
Below we show the area (red circle) from a greater distance. REBIO União is isolated from the forest to the west and, on its other side, the original forest has been almost completely removed. Isolated forests — even as large as this one — lose species over time because they are too small to maintain viable populations. The biological objective of this proposal is to connect União to the forests to the west by buying additional forest and, particularly, the cattle pasture that isolates it.
The map at left illustrates the regional objective. Very little lowland forest remains within coastal Brazil, one of the most biologically important regions of the planet. Within the immediate area, there are three forested areas, the first two of which are protected reserves: União, Poço das Antas, and Morro do São João. The last of these, the remains of an ancient volcano, is very isolated from other forests by farmlands. A major highway, BR101, separates Poço das Antas from other forest and splits União, but connecting the larger, western portion of União is practical.
In fact, our primary concern has not only been with birds, but with the Golden Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia). The IUCN Red List entry reads:
“Leontopithecus rosalia was assessed as Critically Endangered in 1996 and 2000. It has now been downgraded to Endangered as a result of nearly thirty years of conservation efforts, including the establishment of a new population through translocation to a new protected area, the União Biological Reserve.
The wild population is now estimated to be around 1,500. One-third of the population arises from a reintroduction program. The remainder is in forest fragments, the largest of which are Poço das Antas and União Biological Reserves. A stable, managed population is held in captivity at about 490 animals. There is little room for expansion for the wild population, however, because of the extreme fragmentation and reduction of the forest cover within its range. Current and future conservation efforts are attacking this problem with reforestation and the establishment of corridors ” (our italics).
By extension, these lowland forest remnants are likely to be priorities not just for birds and mammals, but also for a huge variety of threatened plants and animals about which we know very little. As one of the last remaining patches of lowland forest in a hotspot with 8,000 endemic plants, it is quite probable that it holds the remnant populations of dozens, perhaps hundreds of species.
The Golden Lion Tamarin Association
The Golden Lion Tamarin Association (or the Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado, AMLD) was formed in Brazil in November 1992 to administer and implement the Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program. Previously administered by Dr. Devra Kleiman and her colleagues at the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, leadership of the Conservation Program was shifted to Brazil to consolidate administrative duties nearer to the center of the conservation action and to turn authority for the program over to local conservationists within the range country.
Save the Golden Lion Tamarin is a 501c(3) non-profit established in the U.S. to support the AMLD’s conservation efforts in Brazil. Save the Golden Lion Tamarin will be responsible for transferring the funds from the U.S. to the AMLD who will purchase the land and immediately transfer it to the Brazilian federal government agency IBAMA for incorporation into REBIO União, a Brazilian federal biological reserve. IBAMA is responsible for and competent to guarantee the long-term management and protection of the reserve.
A brief history of the negotiations
The total asking price for the 140 hectares is US$333,000. Initially, the hope was to buy a much smaller piece of land — essentially the pasture that separates REBIO União from the forests to the west. Its owner, Sr. Gouveia, decided that this would split his farm into two pieces and he preferred to sell a larger section. His asking price for the entire property is R$5,000 per hectare (= US $2,400 per hectare, or a little over $1,000 per acre). This is consistent with the present market prices for the region. There are smaller areas to the north of REBIO União, which would connect the reserve to other forest fragments, but the Gouveia parcel is by far the most strategically important.
Potential for recovery
The area of pasture is surrounded on most sides by forest. We think it is likely that the natural process of succession would quickly cause this area to be occupied by fast-growing Cecropia trees. Following in their shade should grow longer-lived tropical hardwood species, though we could always enhance this process by planting native seedlings. Several local nurseries, including a community nursery with which the Golden Lion Tamarin Association works closely, are producing native tree seedlings.
Brazil is one of the few tropical primate range countries where one can enter into a secure land purchase. The land we seek to purchase will be managed by the Brazilian government environment agency as an extension of REBIO União; so its long-term protection is assured. But what of the lands adjacent to it? In areas of active logging, there is always a worry that in protecting one area of forest, logging operations will simply move elsewhere and there will be no net protection. However, the areas in this region are not being actively logged. Moreover, landowners are forbidden by Federal Law (Atlantic Forest Law, 11.428, 2006) to cut more forest (primary or in medium and advanced stages of regeneration) and are obligated by the Federal Forest Code (Law 4.771, 1965) to maintain 20% of their property as forest as well as to maintain forest along streams and on steep inclines. (This partly explains why there is so much fragmented forest in this area; however, enforcement of this law has been erratic in the past). Furthermore, the purchase of land in the lowlands will connect REBIO União to forest on steeper hillsides that are not normally cut in any case.
Potential for Carbon sequestration
As can be seen from the aerial photograph, about half the land already has forest and is continuous with the reserve. However, roughly half the area is deforested – about 70 hectares. As the supporting document from SavingSpecies.org explains, 70 hectares of regenerating forest will “soak up” the carbon used by the at least 35 average Americans — and continue to do so for roughly thirty years.