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Atlantic Forest Conservation in Paraguay

  • the entrance to ITAIPU Binational, Peru

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Conservation and Sustainability is working with partners in Paraguay to develop and enforce best practices to manage protected areas and to support research to maintain healthy and viable wildlife populations of conservation concern.

Due to extensive agriculture in the Paraguayan landscape, the country has lost most of its forest cover. The eastern region of the country has been affected the most within the last 30 years.

CCS researchers and scientists have joined ITAIPU Binational, the largest clean energy generation hydropower in the world, for a 5-year collaboration. ITAIPU is a binational government company operated jointly by Paraguay and Brazil. As part of the hydropower watershed, ITAIPU holds under its management the largest Atlantic forest remnants of the Alto Parana Atlantic Forest with many species of conservation concern, such as jaguar (Panthera onca), bush dog (Speothos venaticus), lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) and maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus).

Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute scientists and experts are also working with ITAIPU Wildlife Conservation Research Center (CIASI) and Center for Protected Areas (CIAP) to become the biodiversity conservation leaders of the Alto Parana Atlantic Forest of Paraguay. The partnership has three main components for the first year:

  • Conduct an expert assessment of CIASI to understand current management and programs to achieve best practices in animal science and management, nutrition, reproduction and genetics; and provide recommendations for the new Zoo and captive breeding research facility;
  • Conduct a CIASI visit to the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C., and Virginia to complete the new CIASI Zoo design and acquire additional skills in animal management, nutrition, reproduction and genetics; and
  • Develop a Biodiversity Monitoring and Assessment Program (BMAP) for CIAP to generate knowledge and information on species of conservation concern and to evaluate and monitor the status and trends of selected species and habitats in ITAIPU protected areas. 

Ana María Sánchez Cuervo, Ph.D., discusses how in-situ and ex-situ conservation strategies work toward identifying species of conservation concern with the potential for reintroduction. Her approach is reinforced by applying best practices in animal care, boosting local research and education, and promoting sustainable infrastructure.