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Project BioBrasil: Science-based development of a conservation management plan for golden-headed lion tamarins

Golden-headed lion tamarins are small arboreal primates classified as endangered as the result of continuing deforestation in the Atlantic Forest. Being endemic to the Atlantic Forest of southern Bahia, they have long served as a regional flagship species. The GHLT geographic range is divided in two portions, each of which dominated by a distinct vegetation type and markedly different in terms of degree of fragmentation and disturbance. Cattle ranching is the primary anthropogenic activity in the western portion, resulting in extremely small and isolated fragments of semi-deciduous, mesophytic forest. Coastal humid forest characterizes the east, and the primary forms of land uses here include shade-cocoa agroforestry (‘cabruca’) and other agricultural activities. While forest remnants in the east are larger and less isolated than in the west principally due to the presence of cabruca, the decline in cocoa prices and a fungal disease (witch’s broom) have caused many landowners to convert their shade-cocoa into pastures or other crops, increasing levels of forest degradation and fragmentation and decreasing the amount of suitable connecting matrix. Most remaining wild populations of GHLTs occur in the eastern portion of the distribution, which covers approximately 45% of the total distribution area, but contains the largest remaining continuous forest remnant, the only fragment large enough to sustain a genetically viable population of GHLTs (Zeigler et al. 2010). This eastern portion thus plays a critical role in the species´ conservation, and actions that focus on maintaining forest integrity and connectivity here are doubtlessly the most effective way of securing the long-term survival of the species. Project BioBrasil objective is to contribute to the long-term survival of GHLTs by assisting the development and implementation of a conservation action plan for the species, based on sound scientific information, ensuring the participation of key organizations and stakeholders in the process. With less than 2% of the forest in the GHLT distribution legally protected, the majority of today´s remaining wild populations reside in unprotected forest on private lands. Securing the long-term survival of GHLT populations will require the collaboration and participation of local communities, and the development of sustainable landscape management guidelines compatible with the long-term persistence of self-sustaining GHLT populations in the wild, while meeting the needs of local communities. In the past 10 years, Project BioBrasil´s activities have focussed mainly on acquiring the necessary scientific/ecological information to nurture the development of science-based conservation actions, with small initiatives in the area of education and direct conservation actions. To accomplish both its research and conservation mission, the Project´s new research and conservation strategy includes the following points: 1. implementation of a multidisciplinary research program as a basis for development of a full GHLT conservation action plan, preferably in collaboration with larger projects to improve knowledge acquisition and data sharing; 2. increased strategic support (expertise, scientific information, fundraising) to promote science-based conservation strategies that benefit GHLTs and their landscape in the area of education, public politics and socio-economics 3. increased participation in planning workshops and position-taking in steering groups that address issues relevant to GHLT conservation
Datum:1 sep 2002  →  Heden