June 2012: International conservation charity, World Land Trust (WLT), have reached a landmark agreement with the Government of Misiones in Argentina and indigenous Guarani communities, to protect some of the most precious and threatened habitat on earth. This unprecedented agreement will be presented on the international stage at the forthcoming Rio +20 Conference in Brazil, later this month.
The Atlantic Rainforest once stretched in a huge swathe through Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina, but has now been reduced to isolated fragments with only seven per cent of forest cover remaining. The last strong hold of Atlantic Rainforest lies in the north of Argentina, where WLT have been striving to protect an area of 9,301acres (3,764hectares), for the past six years. This land has been at the centre of years of disagreement between indigenous Guarani communities, their neighbours and the government, as to the future of their shared land. At points during the talks, WLT feared negotiations would collapse due to the complex and sensitive issues at hand.
In April this year, WLT finally signed an agreement to protect this habitat and facilitated a Multicultural Alliance between the three Guarani communities and the government of Misiones, and thus settled years of dispute between the groups. The habitat and the wealth of biodiversity that depends on it for survival, is now under permanent protection as a nature reserve which will be managed for conservation.
The indigenous groups living in the reserve have agreed to, and strongly support, a number of restrictions that will protect the biodiversity of the habitat. The Guarani representatives stated that this agreement respected their rights and traditional way of life, whilst also ensuring the future conservation of the Rainforest ecosystem.
CEO of WLT, John Burton has said: "The agreement that has been reached is truly ground-breaking and it’s been heralded as such by the government of Misiones. In my view, it is probably the most important land purchase the WLT will ever make, because of the innovations involved and the wealth of biodiversity it protects."
The Minister of Environment of Misiones Province has asked John Burton if WLT would be happy for the Provincial Government to take this project to the Rio +20 Conference, as an example of innovative methods of conserving biodiversity and working with indigenous communities. WLT will be holding a press day in London on Wednesday 19 June to coincide with the Rio+20 Conference.
Full press release: http://www.worldlandtrust.org/documents/press-release-misiones-rio20-june2012.pdf (183KB) (opens in new window)
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