Serra Bonita Mountain Range
Dr. Vitor Becker
October 4, 2013
Rainforest Trust has supported our Brazilian partner, Instituto Uiraçu, to purchase two properties that have expanded Brazil’s Serra Bonita Reserve by 237 acres. The new properties will enlarge the reserve’s total size to 5,737 acres, and will provide protection for six rare bird species, as well as the Yellow-breasted Capuchin, a critically endangered primate known to inhabit only a handful of protected areas.
Located in the Serra Bonita Mountain Range, in the Brazilian state of Bahia, the reserve protects one of the last intact remnants of the Atlantic Rainforest. This rainforest, considered to be second most endangered biome in the world (Madagascar is number one), is also one of the most biodiverse.
“This area has a very high level of diversity, comparable to the Amazon Basin, or maybe even more. At Serra Bonita we’ve counted 350 species of birds, 120 species of orchids, and over 70 species of frogs, some of them new to science,” said Dr. Vitor Becker, Director of Research at Instituto Uiraçu.
“The more we learn about this unique site, the more we realize it’s worth protecting. As the Atlantic Rainforest continues to be destroyed, the importance of acting now to save Serra Bonita grows. Rainforest Trust is proud to work with Instituto Uiraçu to ensure that the Serra Bonita Reserve, and the many endangered species it contains, receives the protection it deserves,” noted Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO of Rainforest Trust. “In the future, we will continue working with Instituto Uiraçu to strategically expand the reserve even more.”
Despite its spectacular biodiversity, 93% of the Atlantic Rainforest has been destroyed during the last 100 years. The consequences have been devastating for the region’s many endemic species. Populations of the Yellow-breasted capuchin have declined more than 80% in the last 50 years; now only 300 remain in the wild. Northern brown howler monkeys, another critically endangered primate found at Serra Bonita, have fared even worse. Only 40 of these primates survive today.
Much of the forest within the Serra Bonita Reserve remains in a pristine state, and its protection has allowed local wildlife to bounce back. Pumas, among other species, have returned to the area, with frequent sightings reported in recent years.
The resurgence of these species has provided Becker with increased motivation to expand the Serra Bonita Reserve. “We already own one-third of the Serra Bonita Mountain, and my dream, my goal, is to preserve the whole thing. Luckily, a lot of it is still in a good condition to be protected,” Becker said. “There aren’t many institutions that aid in land purchase, so the support of Rainforest Trust is vital to the expansion of the reserve.”
These land purchases were made possible due to the generous support of donors, especially Luanne Lemmer, Eric Veach, and The Orchid Conservation Alliance. Additional support was provided by the American Bird Conservancy.
To see more of Dr. Becker’s interview click here.