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A biodiversity Vision for the upper Paraná Atlantic Forest Ecoregion

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Chapter 5

Results: The Biodiversity Conservation Landscape

Representation of the Landscape Units

Ten of the 18 landscape units have less than 3% of their area remaining in native forest cover — the best-represented landscape unit has only 19%, and what remains is highly fragmented. The representation of the landscape units within strictly protected areas ranged from zero percent (nine landscape units) to 3.45% (the best represented unit) of their original area (Table 3).

Only eight of the 18 landscape units are represented in at least one forest fragment larger than 10,000 ha (Table 4). The ten landscape units that do not have large forest fragments and have little representation within the protected area system also do not have any fragment with a high fragment importance index value. There are practically no possibilities to obtain a good representation of these ten landscape units in the final Biodiversity Conservation Landscape18. The eight landscape units that still have forest fragments larger than 10,000 ha are represented in strictly protected areas. Due to this situation, long-term biodiversity conservation efforts in the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest ecoregion should focus on ensuring the resilience of the areas that can maintain viable populations of umbrella species and healthy ecological processes. Only this will enable the long-term conservation of the majority of the species. At the same time, we should try to include the best representation possible, but knowing that achieving the goal of at least 10% representation of each landscape unit is nearly impossible in the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest and the final Biodiversity Conservation Landscape will not attain this goal (see below further discussion on the implication of this on the biodiversity conservation goals).

The Biodiversity Conservation Landscape

The Biodiversity Conservation Landscape is composed of three main types of areas (Figure 32).

A) Priority Areas for Biodiversity Conservation

We defined five categories of priority areas:

  1. Core Areas: The Core Areas are the blocks of well-preserved native forest large enough to be resilient to threats causing biodiversity loss. These are the most biologically important and strategic zones for conservation, either public or private. In addition to harboring biodiversity, they make an important contribution to the maintenance of environmental services important for human quality of life (such as carbon sequestration, balance and quality of water supply, and aesthetic landscape). Here human activities must be reduced to a minimum and must be of low impact. Each Core Area should be managed under strict protection to maintain an area of continuous native forest large enough for the life cycle of individuals of large range species such as jaguars and white-lipped peccaries.

To attain this goal, Core Areas must meet the following criteria:

  • They are larger than 10,000 ha.

  • They have high potential for conservation (their conservation potential index should range from 32 to 64) in more than 60% of the area.

  • They have an area of continuous forest cover larger than 10,000 ha after excluding an area of 500 m (buffer) under edge effect.

We included four areas in this category that did not fully meet these criteria. Araupel (Brazil) and part of San Rafael (Paraguay) were included even though their conservation potential index was lower than 32, but it would have been higher if recent changes (the creation of new strictly protected areas) increasing their conservation status had been included in the analyses. Caaguazú (Paraguay) and Morombí (Paraguay) were included although they do not have more than 10,000 ha of forest cover without edge effect, they are very close to that figure (9,950 ha and 9,650 ha respectively). The final Core Areas are depicted in Figure 33.
Note: Due to the high degree of fragmentation of this ecoregion, no Core Area alone will be large enough to sustain viable populations of umbrella species. To fulfill the critical role of Core Area, each of them must be effectively connected through corridors to other Core Areas. If isolated, the Core Areas will eventually lose the presence of umbrella species and the ecological processes that depend on them.

  1. Forested Areas with High Potential to Become Strictly Protected Areas (FAHPSPA): Most of the forested areas of Misiones meet the requirements for becoming a Core Area. However, the probability that the entire area will eventually constitute a strictly protected area is very low according to socio-political assessments. For this reason, we selected those areas of the Green Corridor with the highest conservation potential index as Core Areas and the remaining areas were categorized as Forested Areas with High Potential to Become Strictly Protected Areas (Figure 34). Part of these areas may thus become strictly protected and probably incorporated into Core Areas and part of them will become Sustainable Use Areas. Thus, the FAHPSPA do not belong to either of these categories (sustainable use vs. strictly protected areas) yet. However, we considered them Priority Areas for Biodiversity Conservation even though not all the area will end up being strictly protected.

  1. Potential Core Areas: These areas meet only two of the three requirements for becoming Core Areas (they are larger than 10,000 ha and they have a high potential for conservation index in more than 60% of the area). After excluding an edge of 500 m, however, they do not have an area of continuous forest cover larger than 10,000 ha. Nevertheless, due to their high conservation potential, they may become Core Areas in the future if restoration and good management initiatives are implemented, especially along their borders (Figure 34).

  1. Forest Areas that Need Assessment (FANA): These are areas with relatively low conservation potential. In 1997, they each had a forested core larger than 10,000 ha (this was the date of the satellite images used to create the forest fragments maps from Paraguay). However, they are located in the area with the highest deforestation rate in Paraguay, and they probably have been reduced to less than 10,000 ha (Guyra Paraguay, pers. com.) (Figure 34). We need to update our information on their current condition before defining their role in the Biodiversity Conservation Landscape. In this sense FANA are areas in a condition similar to the FAHPSPA, where it is not possible to define if they will belong to the category of Sustainable Use Areas or strictly protected areas yet.

  1. Satellite Areas: These are areas with high potential for conservation but are only 5,000–10,000 ha in size. (Figure 34). It will be difficult to increase their size because areas with low conservation potential surround them. However, if they can be connected to the Core Areas they will play an important biodiversity conservation role.

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