Sunday, June 19, 2011

Arbor Day

Once again it's Dia de Arbol, June 19th, and since it falls on a Sunday this year I will be doing stuff in the school Tues & Wed. Last year I think I talked about what I did in the school and Paraguay vs. trees. This year I would like to talk about a very important forest called the Atlantic Forest known in Paraguay as El Bosque Atlántico del Alto Paraná or BAAPA. I apologize that this post will be a bit sad and depressing but what isn't when we're talking about the state of the environment these days.

(Most of this is taken from our 'descovering the Atlantic Forest' book I have that was made by pc volunteers and Wikapedia :p
The Atlantic Forest is a tropical forest found mostly in Brazil and southeast Paraguay and a small part of Argentina. It contains ecosystems not found anywhere else in the world. It has also been being hacked apart since colonial times mostly to make room for sugarcane plantations (thanks sweet tooth), then coffee plantations and urbanization. It's estimated that only 10% of the forest is left and broken up into isolated hilltops and of course hosts a whooole boatload of endangered species, many that are endemic only to this forest.   
In Paraguay the Atlantic Forest has been totally devastated by deforestation. It used to spread over most of the lower part of the country but now only 6% remains in small patches.
There are a bunch of different orginizations trying to reforest and teach people about the importance of the BAAPA and sustainable use of it, but I think what would help the most are laws (ok there are laws) but ENFORCED laws to protect it!

some facts from
unique and threatened flora and fauna..

plants: The Atlantic Forest has been floristically isolated from other South American tropical forests by the savannas and woodlands of the Cerrado for thousands of years, explaining the region’s remarkably high plant endemism—of 20,000 vascular plant species occurring there, about 8,000 are endemic. Endemism in trees is particularly high, with more than half the species found nowhere else. 
The Atlantic Forest has spectacular bird diversity, with over 930 species, about 15 percent of which are found nowhere else. There are 23 endemic genera. Because most of the region's forests have been cleared during 500 years of exploitation, many species are now threatened, and at least one is extinct in the wild, the Alagoas curassow ( Crax mitu). The species was last sighted in the wild in 1987 and now exists only in a small captive population in Rio de Janeiro. 

More than 70 mammals, of a total of over 260 species occurring, are endemic to the Atlantic Forest. They include interesting species such as the thin-spined porcupine ( Chaetomys subspinosus, VU) and painted tree rat or cacao rat ( Callistomys pictus), which represent monotypic genera, and the maned sloth ( Bradypus torquatus, EN), a larger relative of the widespread three-toed sloths ( B. tridactylus and B. variegatus). One particularly notable endemic is the Brazilian arboreal mouse ( Rhagomys rufescens, CR), one of the rarest of the South American mammals. Originally described from a single specimen collected in the state of Rio de Janeiro in the 19th century, a second specimen was only recently discovered in Viçosa in Minas Gerais. 

The destruction of the BAAPA from 1945 to 2009

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