In August, Rainforest Trust alerted our supporters to an urgent land purchase to expand protection of the San Rafael Reserve located in southeastern Paraguay. San Rafael protects one of the last great stands of Atlantic Rainforest in Paraguay and our partner Guyra Paraguay has worked tirelessly to protect it. In just ten days, the final amount of funding needed, $20,000, was raised allowing us to support our partner to finalize the purchase of 677 acres on October 8, 2012, that were in danger of being lost to deforestation.
Saving the 677 acres marked another milestone in the reserve’s history. It protects the ancestral territory of the Mbyá People and will be co-owned with them for the next ten years. This purchase was a collaboration of donors, particularly with Rainforest Trust in the UK.
San Rafael is the ancestral territory of the Mbyá indigenous people, but was under the ownership of 55 different private landlords and suffered heavy encroachment every year. Its conservation importance is clear–it has more of the 79 species endemic to the Atlantic Forest than any other Paraguayan site, and its overall avian diversity is comparable to much larger Atlantic forest sites in Brazil.
Rainforest Trust first became involved in 2002, assisting in the purchase of 2,271 acres. We continued to support this area through the work of our local partner, Guyra Paraguay. To date, with this additional land purchase, more than 16,000 acres of pristine habitats within San Rafael has been declared for conservation thanks to Rainforest Trust support.
The work at San Rafael continues to be at the forefront of conservation in South America. A pioneering project is now also underway which aims to show that REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) can deliver significant and lasting benefits to forest communities and biodiversity, while meeting corporate social responsibility commitments, and contributing to climate change mitigation by sequestering carbon and avoiding deforestation and forest degradation.