Project Canopy, Paraguay ’92

Thomas Brooks

Forest in Paraguay is in serious danger from development. The expedition surveyed birds and mammals in remnant patches of humid subtropical rainforest in collaboration with local conservation groups. Six sites were surveyed, four in newly created Private Nature Reserves and two in the Reserva Natural del Bosque Mbaracayu. 356 species of birds and 39 species of mammals were recorded, of which 15 are considered to be globally threatened. Recommendations were presented for the future management of the sites visited.

Project update: 10/7/96. Project Canopy was the first of three BP-sponsored expeditions to Paraguay, with Project Yacutinga winning the Tropical Forests category in 1995 and Project Aguará Nu receiving the Follow-up Award in 1997. Using birds as rapid and effective indicators of the biodiversity and conservation significance of sites, the teams concentrated on 16 localities selected from the 1993 SINASIP conservation strategy for Paraguay (Lowen et al. 1996). Since 1992, the projects have successfully: (1) put Paraguay on the conservation map; (2) prioritised sites for conservation resources; (3) prompted a major revision of the protected area network; (4) promoted government and NGO cooperation; (5) helped secure a US$450,000 grant for Fundación Moises Bertoni (FMB) from MacArthur; (6) provided data for the establishment of two Atlantic forest Biosphere Reserves; (7) studied a grassland owned by a Shell forestry subsidiary, now set-aside under the FMB ‘Private Nature Reserve Scheme’; (8) prepared a management plan for the most important site for the conservation of Paraguay’s threatened grassland birds (Mbaracayú). Paraguayan members subsequently joined organisations such as FMB, Museum of Natural History and CITES-Paraguay. One UK team member now lives in Paraguay and another is conducting a PhD on the rare White-winged Nightjar (Caprimulgus candicans) (D.Capper in litt. 1998).