A new paper published Monday August 21, 2017 offers some of the best evidence yet for the efficacy of connecting fragmented forests to save threatened species. The scientific study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and co-authored by SavingSpecies President Stuart Pimm and Vice President Clinton Jenkins, illustrates how small investments of land and money in targeted forest corridor restoration projects can make a huge difference for the world’s biodiversity.
The scientists studied forests at two of the world’s most biodiverse and fragmented forest ecosystems, the Atlantic Forest of Brazil and Eastern Arc Mountains of Tanzania, both of which are home to hundreds of rare and threatened species.
You can read the full article by clicking here (but beware of the complex math at the end!). In brief, the paper finds that connecting forest fragments where we know good numbers of threatened species exist will slow down extinctions more than 50-fold. That means planting forest corridors—and protecting them—substantially delays species loss.
Stitching forest fragments together increases genetic diversity between isolated populations of wildlife, allowing threatened species to survive and thrive. More forest connectivity also provides greater access to food sources and other essential survival needs. And the paper quantifies just how crucial these efforts are and how effective the strategy can be.
Equally encouraging is that these carefully-honed forest corridor restoration projects can be implemented for a relatively small investment of money—and often considerably less expensive than many other larger (and less effective) conservation projects. For example, the SavingSpecies project at Fazenda Dourada (another part of the Atlantic Forest) spent $330,000 to create a connection for golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia) between what was once an isolated federally-protected nature reserve, Reserva União, and the forest beyond. Earlier this year, the Brazilian authorities extended the reserve to include the forest corridor and the forest to which it connected — a protected area that expanded the original reserve from 2,700 to 7,700 hectares.
SavingSpecies has been supporting efforts to Connect, Protect, and Restore forests—CPR for Earth—across the globe for years. And since 2015, SavingSpecies has been supporting our partner organization’s work at Rosanela farm, in one of the areas the study cites as a prime example of how forest corridors can stop extinctions.
Our Brazilian partner, Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPÊ), has been working with local land owners, farmers, and ranchers in the Atlantic Forest to create a strategic corridor for endangered black lion tamarins (Leontopithecus chrysopygus)—and already we are seeing the forests return and wildlife beginning to thrive! Recently local scientists observed a jaguar using the replanted land inside the corridor, a great sign of ecological renewal and progress.
You can support this great project or any SavingSpecies project by visiting our Donate Page. And thank you for being a part of our work to save threatened species and their forest homes!