Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Misiones Rainforest project presented at Rio+20

20 June, 2012 - 16:20 -- World Land Trust
Misiones Rainforest Corridor project

A World Land Trust (WLT) initiative will be showcased at Rio+20 for its innovative methods to conserve biodiversity by working with indigenous communities

On June 19, the Misiones State Government presented WLT’s project to save the Atlantic Rainforest in Argentina at the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

The summit, formally known as the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, officially begins today (June 20) after a week of related events and conferences, designed to debate and address the world’s urgent environmental issues.

The government presented WLT’s Misiones Rainforest Corridor project at the ‘World Summit of States and Regions’, heralding it as a ground-breaking initiative to conserve biodiversity while upholding the traditional rights of indigenous communities.

Multicultural Alliance representatives

After signing the Multicultural Alliance, John Burton (WLT CEO) is photographed with the three Guarani Caciques (heads), Viviana Rovira (the Minister of Environment of Misiones Province), and Nicholas Laharrague (CEO of Moconá Forestal, the original owner of the land) © WLT

Behind the success

In April, a Multicultural Agreement was reached with three Guaraní communities, their neighbours and the government, settling over 16 years of dispute over the future of their shared land in Misiones, in north-eastern Argentina. This was an innovative agreement never before seen in the country and a resolution could not have been achieved without the work of WLT and professional negotiator, Javier Jimenez.

The Multicultural Agreement will see 9,301 acres (3,764 hectares) of Atlantic Rainforest designated as a protected nature reserve, the Emerald Green Corridor, managed for conservation by WLT partner organisations Fundación Naturaleza para el Futuro (FuNaFu) and Biodiversidad.

The land will be designated as Traditional Indigenous Lands, meaning it will belong to Guaraní communities but they have agreed to and strongly support a number of restrictions that will protect the biodiversity of the habitat.

 Guarani communities

Guarani family welcomes John Burton (WLT CEO) to their village the day after he signs the Multicultural Alliance, they later sing a traditional song in thanks © WLT

Land’s biodiversity value

We have lost 93 per cent of the Atlantic Rainforest – it once stretched through Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina, but is now a forest ecosystem more threatened than the Amazon Rainforest. The last strong hold of Atlantic Rainforest lies in the north of Argentina, where WLT has been working on the Misiones Rainforest Corridor project for six years.

The project area is home to a wealth of wildlife; Pumas and Jaguars roam the forest, families of noisy Howler Monkeys roar in the tree top canopy, endangered Giant Otters fish in the Uruguay River, while huge Harpy Eagles soar across the skies – the largest and most powerful raptor found in the Americas.

The Emerald Green Corridor is the project’s first land purchase success and WLT’s partner, Biodiversidad, have started working with the Guaraní communities to draw up a conservation plan to protect these species and the forest’s rich biodiversity. 

Project’s future

Once the Emerald Green Corridor is being managed for conservation, WLT plans to continue working closely with indigenous communities to protect more land in this region, with the aim of eventually securing a continuous protected area of 100,000 acres (42,000 ha) stretching into neighbouring Brazil.

By taking the project to Rio+20, the Misiones State Government is showing great support for the continued success of this initiative – committing to the protection of the last remaining stronghold of Atlantic Rainforest while upholding traditional indigenous rights.

More information

Watch a video about this landmark conservation agreement with indigenous communities:

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