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Region in Review

The vast tropical rain forests of Central and South America are the world’s most important natural regions. They contain much of the globe's plant and animal biodiversity, harbor key ingredients for tomorrow’s medicines, and are home to indigenous peoples who have lived here for thousands of years. In FY 2004, CI and its allies took major steps to preserve these priceless assets.

Diverse Partnerships
A $3.5 million USAID grant enabled CI to create a new conservation plan that targets Central American flagship species, including jaguar (Panthera onca), scarlet macaw (Ara macao), and Central American river turtle (Dermatemys mawii). Further south, CI teamed up with The Nature Conservancy, the Costa Rica USA Foundation, and the Costa Rican government. Together, we plan to protect the tropical Osa Peninsula region, hailed as the nation’s crown jewel national park.

Guyana’s government declared the Wai-Wai forest community’s 1.5 million acres of traditional lands a protected area, the first to be owned outright by indigenous peoples in that nation. To keep the forests safe from mining and logging, CI is developing the Guyana National Protected Areas Trust with the support of the World Bank and the German Foreign Investment Bank. The trust mirrors a conservation program in neighboring Suriname, where our five-year partnership with the Tareno indigenous community protects some 40,000 acres of forest surrounding recently discovered prehistoric rock drawings.

Forest Connections
Working in Brazil with more than 40 in-country partners, CI supported local and state governments as they expanded biodiversity conservation corridors. In addition to vast rain forest regions set aside in 2003 in the states of Amapá and Amazonas, a new southern Amazonia conservation corridor will protect a further 2 million acres of wilderness. The roughly 28-million-acre homeland of the indigenous Kayapó nation are being expanded by 600,000 acres, shielding about 62 miles of the previously unprotected Xingu riverway.

Private Protection
Despite being drastically reduced to a fragmented 38,000 square miles, or 7 percent of its original size, Brazil’s once-mighty Atlantic rain forest still harbors a wealth of endemic species like the muriqui (Brachyteles arachnoides) and the golden-headed lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysomelas). To safeguard this precious old-growth jungle, CI-Brazil and local NGO Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica, with funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, formed an alliance that will invest about $300,000 to support local landowners who want to create private protected areas within the Atlantic Forest Hotspot.

Industrial Effects
Industrial-scale agriculture in central Brazil is consuming the vast savanna called the Cerrado, annually slicing off an area the size of New Hampshire. At this rate, this unique biome, which harbors more than 150 mammal species and some 837 bird species, could be gone in 30 years. CI is working with farmers to promote conservation and document the loss of these important grasslands. In response, central government and state offcials are now evaluating ways to prevent further damage to the Cerrado.

In the lush forests of the transnational Vilcabamba-Amboró conservation corridor shared by Bolivia and Peru, the controversial Camisea natural gas pipeline, currently under construction, threatened serious environmental and social impacts. In FY 2004, CI and other international and Peruvian conservation and social development groups negotiated with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)—which is financing the $1.6 billion project—some 100 new conditions governing IDB’s loan agreement with Peru that will enhance the preservation of the land and its people.

Debt for Nature
In Colombia, one of the three biologically richest nations on Earth, CI and other international conservation allies orchestrated a $10 million debt-for-nature swap that will help protect 11 million acres of tropical forest and freshwater habitat. The swap will support local conservation efforts over the next 12 years and establish a conservation endowment fund.


© Patricio Robles Gil
Venezuela boasts the world's tallest waterfall, Angel Falls in Canaima National Park.

© CI, Jed Murdoch
The world's largest rodent, the capybara (Hydrochaerus hydrochaeris) is frequently seen in the wetlands of Brazil's Pantanal.

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