The San Rafael fund for biodiversity conservation will provide long-term financing for the management of the Reserva Guyra Reta, and will protect critical ecosystems, maintain global carbon stocks and benefit local communities
Arlington, VA —
Eastern Paraguay’s Reserva Guyra Reta
in the San Rafael Forest —
an important source of fresh water, and home to the Mbyá-Guaraní people and globally threatened species —
will benefit from a $1 million endowment fund established by Conservation International’s (CI) Global Conservation Fund (GCF)
, the World Land Trust (WLT)
and Paraguayan NGO Asociación Guyra Paraguay (Guyra). The San Rafael Fund for Biodiversity Conservation will be managed by WLT to cover the costs of Guyra’s work protecting this important private reserve for the long term.
Located at the heart of Paraguay’s most important remaining tract of Atlantic Forest
, the 7,031 hectares of the Reserva Guyra Reta protect dozens of unique and globally threatened species, as well as the upper watershed of the Tebicuary River, one of the larger tributaries of the Paraguay River. The Reserva Guyra Reta also protects an important recharge area for the Guarani aquifer, the largest freshwater aquifer in South America.
The whole territory of San Rafael and the private Guyra Reta reserve are important for the survival of the indigenous Mbyá-Guaraní culture, which depends on the forest for sustenance, shelter and cultural identity. An estimated 2,000 Mbyá-Guaraní survive within the region through a combination of small-scale agriculture, traditional hunting and gathering of natural resources.
“The establishment of the endowment for the Reserva Guyra Reta will ensure not only the sustainability of this important forest, but also the conservation of biodiversity through collaborative work with local communities. Effective management of the conservation area by Guyra will provide communities with benefits including clean air, fresh water and food,” said Christopher Stone, managing director for GCF.
The San Rafael Fund for Biodiversity Conservation will provide ongoing funding for management of the reserve, including salaries for rangers, equipment, infrastructure maintenance and more.
Although San Rafael was declared an “Area Reserved for a National Park” by the Paraguayan government in 1992, the approximately 78,000 hectares have not been officially designated as an actual national park or managed-resources reserve. In 1997, San Rafael was declared the first Important Bird Area (IBA) in Paraguay, and only the second in South America. More than 400 bird species have been recorded in San Rafael, more than at any other site in Paraguay, and the area is critical for the conservation of endemic species (those found nowhere else).
Among the Atlantic Forest-endemic species found in San Rafael is the endangered black-fronted piping guan (Pipile jacutinga), a large black bird with a white crest, a pale blue bill with a black tip, and red wattle with a patch of blue. Although hunting this species is illegal, the black-fronted piping guan is a highly prized game bird, and is threatened by poaching as well as habitat loss.
GCF has supported Guyra’s efforts in San Rafael since 2003, providing $577,222 in funding to support core management costs, land acquisition and technical assistance. GCF also supported protected-area management training for key personnel.
"It is a great pleasure for Guyra Paraguay to finally put the endowment to work with the support of the WLT and GCF. Support for San Rafael´s long term financing has been needed for years, and this contribution will help protect these areas of great importance for Paraguay and the world”, said Alberto Yanosky Executive Director of Guyra Paraguay.
Leading a conservation alliance with other environmental organizations, Guyra has created and equipped a biological station to conduct research, developed an internship program, worked with neighboring landowners, and restored degraded lands by natural regeneration and tree planting. The alliance has also created a park-ranger team, mobilized and supported a local conservation group as well as measured carbon stored and established permanent sample plots for carbon measurements.
Currently, Guyra and WLT are partnering to offset the carbon emissions of a corporate donor with a REDD project that will generate revenue for both forest protection and direct benefits to local communities. The resources from this project will compliment GCF’s endowment contribution to help provide stable and sustainable financing for the Reserva Guyra Reta and the larger San Rafael landscape. Another important contribution is an outreach program, including a pride campaign for San Rafael, with more than 1,500 members of local communities, combined with education for biodiversity conservation and integrated natural resources management.
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Global Conservation Fund (GCF) - Conservation International's GCF finances the creation, expansion and sustainable financing of protected areas. Made possible by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, GCF provides financial and strategic assistance to enable local communities, nongovernmental organizations and governments to protect their biological riches.
World Land Trust (WLT) – WLT works to protect the world’s most biologically important and threatened habitats acre by acre. Since its inception in 1989 (initially as the World Wide Land Conservation Trust), the WLT has funded partner organizations around the world to create reserves, and give permanent protection to habitat and their wildlife.
Asociación Guyra Paraguay – Guyra Paraguay is an organization of civil society non-profits working to conserve and promote sustainable use of biological diversity in Paraguay, with an emphasis on birds, and organize public action, in order to secure the natural wealth of our country