Ecology Programmes Ecological Restoration in the Atlantic Forest

Golden lion tamarins (GLT) once occurred throughout the lowland Atlantic Forest of Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. Centuries of deforestation for timber and charcoal production, agriculture, cattle ranching, and now urban expansion, reduced the tamarin’s forest habitat to 2% of its original area—all fragmented into small and isolated forest islands surrounded by cattle pasture and housing developments.  Now, all remaining wild GLTs and their entire forest habitat are found only in the São João River Basin, Rio de Janeiro State.

Remaining GLTs are found in about a dozen isolated forest habitat patches, none large enough to support a viable population of GLTs. Unless sufficient remaining forest fragments are reconnected and protected very soon, the GLTs living in them will succumb to inbreeding, disease and other environmental threats—and the species will become extinct in the wild.  In three international workshops (1990, 1994, 2005), world experts in small-population modeling and management agreed that 2,000 GLTs living in connected habitat would be adequate to meet our conservation goals of 0% probability of species extinction and 98% retention of genetic diversity over a period of 100 years (as predicted by state-of-the-art computer models using 30yrs of data on GLT ecology and demography collected by AMLD scientists). Since its creation in 1992, AMLD has been coordinating efforts with local and international partners to reach these goals and thereby conserve the species in its Atlantic Forest habitat. Read more about AMLD.

This project focuses on acquiring the 237-hectare Igarapé Farm and restoring approximately 100 hectares of degraded pastureland to create connected forest area of more than 10,000 hectares.

The farm’s remaining land is still forested and in good condition. There also are several structures that can be used for community gatherings on conservation issues, education, and ecotourism.

Despite its size, a fully reforested Igarapé Farm that is protected and managed for conservation would connect to the much larger Poço das Antas Biological Reserve to form a newly contiguous protected forested area large enough to ensure the survival of many of the most vulnerable species in the region. It also makes it possible to pursue future restoration initiatives that would link other outlying fragments and create an even greater area of protected habitat.

Key features

Goals  Restoring 100 hectares of degrated pasture land
  Creating a connected forest area of 10.000 hectares
  Prevend extinction of the golden lion tamarin