2009 End-of-the-year review
Dear Friends of the Atlantic Forest,
An eventful year is drawing to a close at Pro Cosara. Our endeavors to protect the San Rafael Nature Reserve in the south east of Paraguay are still proving difficult, but there have been a few very positive and promising developments in the last year.
San Rafael is taking an important step towards national park status
The future status of the San Rafael reserve continues to be uncertain, but we have been able to take a huge step forwards towards national park status. A large survey of the IUCN came to the conclusion that San Rafael will have to be a national park! It confirmed that San Rafael is one of the last remnants of a forest of this type and that the previous state protective ordinance was insufficient to preserve it. The majority of private land owners are also evidently for the creation of a national park. The Paraguayan state is now required to provide those landowners with appropriate compensation. This is where we will be doubling our efforts and applying our powers of persuasion.
Successful projects in local schools
Our environmental education projects are a definitive success! Together with the WWF we made regular visits to 26 schools to inform the children about the importance of environmental protection. In addition, there was a competition to find the cleanest and greenest school. The children smartened up their school grounds and planted trees from our nursery. In England one school class collected 1240 dollars to reward the winners. The best school classes won either a camping weekend in Pro Cosara or a visit to the Encarnación Zoo.
Pro Cosara is becoming more professional
The agronomy faculty of Colonias Unidas has allocated us premises for an office. We will be better able to work on the management and organisation of the project and also devote more effort to practical work in situ. The situation here is also improving. With the support of the University of Salamanca (Spain) we are going to build a new park ranger house to replace our present provisional arrangement.
Sustainable land use projects with small farmers
More than 100 small farmers from the surroundings of the protected area are participating in the re-forestation project. The aim is to reforest along the streams and to create a stock of trees which can be reused sustainably so that in the long-term, logging activities for construction and firewood are decreased in the protected area. Until now the tree seedlings have come from the Alto Verá nursery, which we set up with the WWF in 2007, and which now occupies 1600 m², twice the original area. About 150,000 saplings can now be cultivated annually here. The cultivation of tree seedlings has again generated interest and two small farmers are in the process of starting their own nurseries. In addition to the reforestation work, we also run information events and courses for small farmers on subjects such as the use of organic fertilisers and compost, alternative cultivations, diversification and erosion control.
Surveillance of the forest
In addition to all the other activities, we continue surveillance of the forest. Our park rangers are at work everyday and we regularly carry out surveillance flights in our microlight. Recently we have been working with a solicitor who is looking at reimbursement for reporting the theft of timber and who also advises us on legal issues. Unfortunately the timber thieves are becoming more sophisticated. Since the introduction of the mobile phone network to the San Rafael area, they have been able to escape more often because their accomplices warn them by mobile phone. We hope to be able to contain this problem by working closely with the Secretariat of the Environment park rangers and the newly appointed environmental police force.
Fire service courses are having an effect
The fire service courses we run for the San Rafael area residents are having an effect. People now know what to do when a fire breaks out in or around the protected area. In April we were able to bring a large forest fire under control without outside help. The San Rafael fire service group took first place in a national fire service competition in the capital Asunción.
We still need your help!
Our work for San Rafael is only possible with the help of a large number of supporters. Donations help us to employ park rangers, carry out surveillance flights, run courses and instigate school projects. It is only through multiple action that the Forest of San Rafael can be preserved long-term. Please help us!
Many thanks in advance for your support!