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A biodiversity Vision for the upper Paraná Atlantic Forest Ecoregion

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List of Figures

Figure 1. The Global 200 Terrestrial Ecoregions 13

Figure 2. Location of the Atlantic Forests Global 200 Ecoregion in South America 25

Figure 3. The 15 Ecoregions of the Atlantic Forests Global 200 Ecoregion Complex 26

Figure 4. Forest Remnants of the Atlantic Forests Global 200 Ecoregion 28

Figure 5. The Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest Ecoregion 29

Figure 6. The Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest Ecoregion Overlaps Extensively with the Upper Paraná Rivers and Streams Global 200 Ecoregion 30

Figure 7. The Process of Destruction of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest 31

Figure 8. Land Tenure Patterns in Different Parts of the Ecoregion 32

Figure 9a. Protected Areas of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest 33

Figure 9b. Protected Areas of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest (Enlarged Tri-national Area) 34

Figure 10. Protected Areas in the Ecoregion Have Increased 37

Figure 11. Number and Total Area of Fragments in Size Categories 43

Figure 12. Number of Dry Months 50

Figure 13. Elevation Range 51

Figure 14. Slopes Index 52

Figure 15. Landscape Units 53

Figure 16. Forest Remnants of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest 54

Figure 17. Forest Fragments Discriminated by Size Categories 55

Figure 18. Forest Fragment Cores Discriminated by Area Categories 56

Figure 19. Fragment Importance Index 57

Figure 20. Cities 58

Figure 21. Crops 59

Figure 22. Cattle Ranching 60

Figure 23. Rural Population Density 61

Figure 24. Threats to Biodiversity Conservation 62

Figure 25. Proximity to Strictly Protected Areas 63

Figure 26. Proximity to Rivers 64

Figure 27. Zones of Planned Conservation 65

Figure 28. Opportunities for Biodiversity Conservation 66

Figure 29. Threats and Opportunities 67

Figure 30. Biodiversity Conservation Potential 68

Figure 31. Process of Development of the Biodiversity Conservation Landscape 69

Figure 32. Illustration of Concept of Categories of Areas Included in the Biodiversity Conservation Landscape 82

Figure 33. Core Areas 83

Figure 34. Priority Areas 84

Figure 35. Sustainable Use Areas Connecting the Priority Areas 85

Figure 36. Biodiversity Conservation Landscape 86

Figure 37. Area Under Strict Protection (present and future) in the Biodiversity Conservation Landscape 87

Figure 38. Area Under Sustainable Use Areas 88

Figure 39. Forest Cover in Units of the Biodiversity Conservation Landscape 89

List of Tables

Table 1. Protected Areas of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest Ecoregion 35

Table 2. Density Estimates and Area Requirements for Individuals and Populations of Different Sizes of Typical Vertebrate Species of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest. 42

Table 3. Representation in Protected Areas and Remaining Forest Cover in Landscape Units 77

Table 4. Number of Fragments and Forest Cover (Ha) per Landscape Unit and per Fragment Size Category. 78

Table 5. Representation of Landscape Units in the Priority Areas 79

Table 6. Representation of Landscape Units in Final Biodiversity Conservation Landscape 81


Vision Statement

To limit further species extinctions and

to maintain critical environmental services

by taking immediate actions

to ensure the long-term viability

of representative biodiversity

of the Atlantic Forest.

Executive Summary

Ecoregion Conservation

In recent years the conservation community has been promoting the design and implementation of biodiversity conservation actions at larger scales. WWF has embraced this approach, focusing conservation planning and action on ecoregions — relatively large units of land or water that contain a distinct assemblage of natural communities that share a large majority of species, dynamics, and environmental conditions. Since most ecological and evolutionary processes that sustain biodiversity occur at these larger scales, WWF has determined that ecoregions are the best units to design and implement biodiversity conservation actions. , and t

One of the key elements needed to implement ecoregion conservation is a Biodiversity Vision. A Biodiversity Vision is a planning tool, usually in the form of a document like this, aimed at guiding biodiversity conservation activities in the ecoregion. A Biodiversity Vision sets a number of biodiversity conservation goals based on widely-accepted principles of conservation biology, and identifies critical areas to be either conserved, managed, or restored in order to meet those goals. These areas are identified through a science-based process that relies on the best available biodiversity data and socioeconomic information. Through this process, we developed a Biodiversity Conservation Landscape that is represented in a map illustrating how the ecoregion would look in 50-100 years if we are successful in conserving biodiversity. This Biodiversity Conservation Landscape is a central piece of the Biodiversity Vision, and its representation in a map helps to focus conservation activities on those areas and to set specific targets that would render the best results for biodiversity conservation.

The Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest—a critically endangered ecoregion

In a worldwide ranking based on a comparative analysis of biodiversity data, WWF has identified the Global 200—the most outstanding ecoregions representing the full range of the Earth’s diverse terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats. The Atlantic Forests, a Global 200 ecoregion, is actually a complex of 15 terrestrial ecoregions1 that span the Atlantic coast of Brazil, extending westward into eastern Paraguay and northeastern Argentina. The Atlantic Forests are among the most endangered rainforests on earth, with only 7.4% of their original forest cover remaining, and this is in a highly fragmented landscape. They have been ranked as one of the most biologically diverse forests of the world. The southwestern portion of the Atlantic Forest constitutes the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest ecoregion and is the focus of this Biodiversity Vision.

The original2 area of the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest ecoregion is the largest (471,204 km2) of the 15 ecoregions of the Atlantic Forests Ecoregion Complex, extending from the western slopes of the Serra do Mar in Brazil to eastern Paraguay and the Misiones Province in Argentina. All this area was originally covered by a continuous subtropical semi-deciduous forest with a high diversity of plant species that formed different forest communities3. This ecoregion has the largest remaining forest blocks, still containing the original set of large vertebrates, including top predators such as harpy eagles, crested eagles, jaguars, pumas, and ocelots, and large herbivores, such as tapirs, two species of brocket deer, and two species of peccaries. While these blocks represent an important conservation opportunity, they present the special challenge of crossing the borders of three countries with different cultures and different languages, a complex socio-economic and cultural diversity, and have experienced recent economic and social crises.

The largest threat to biodiversity in the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest ecoregion is the extreme degree of forest fragmentation and degradation, where the main proximate cause is the expansion of agriculture, both large- and small-scale. Other causes include squatting by landless people, the construction of infrastructure (dams, roads, etc.), illegal hunting of wildlife, and unsustainable exploitation of the native forest. Despite the high degree of forest fragmentation, there are still good opportunities for the conservation of the remaining large forest fragments in the ecoregion. By protecting these large areas we will be able to conserve the ecological processes that sustain biological diversity.

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