Belém, Brazil – In a pioneering effort to halt species extinction in the Brazilian Amazon, the state of Pará is launching the Zero Extinction Program, the first of its kind in Brazil. The program, part of a decree signed today in Belém by Pará Governor Ana Júlia Carepa identifies threatened species, key sites where they live and measures to protect and conserve these threatened habitats and species.
While Pará is the second largest Brazilian Amazon state (1.25 million km2, roughly twice the size of Texas), it is first in terms of Amazon deforestation. Of the 679,899 km2 of cleared Amazon rainforest, 202,906 km2 are in Pará. Deforestation is one of the primary causes of loss of species. Biodiversity loss often leads to the degradation of ecosystems, which in turn lowers the quality of life of those dependent on them.
A key element of the Pará Zero Extinction Program is the compilation of a "red list" or list of threatened species, which includes 91 vertebrates, 37 invertebrates, and 53 plant species. The most threatened species, those classified as critically endangered, are two plant species, seven fish, one bird, and three mammals. The majority of these species, such as the caiarara monkey (Cebus kaapori) and the black bearded saki (Chiropotes satanas) are restricted to the most deforested areas in the state, especially the eastern portion of Pará.
"This red list, the first for a Brazilian Amazon state, differs from those in seven other Brazilian states in that it integrates both flora and fauna in a process which involved considerable consultation," said Pará Secretary for the Environment Valmir Ortega. "The decree also includes excellent management tools that will enable the government, research institutions and society to get mobilized to protect these species."
The decree creates a formal structure for coordinating the Zero Extinction Program, composed of a management committee, a technical committee, the state’s red list, and recovery plans for endangered species. It also recognizes Key Biodiversity Areas where listed species are found as priority regions for conservation and recovery efforts. And, it advocates advances in research, knowledge, and conservation of these species, specially the critically endangered ones.
"These innovative measures rank Pará's legislation on endangered species as one of the most progressive and complete in the world," said Adrian Antonio Garda, director of the Amazon Program at Conservation International, one of the partners who created the Zero Extinction Program. Other partners are Pará state's environment ministry and Goeldi’s Museum, the oldest research institution in the Brazilian Amazon.
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