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South America

Satellite Projects

Amazonia Landscape Mapping and Biodiversity Estimation Using Remote Sensing and Local Communities Knowledge and Know-How (website)

The Xixuau-Xiparina Nature Reserve and Lower Rio Jauperi basin, State of Roraima, Brazil is an unexplored, pristine rainforest that harbors rich wildlife including several threatened mammal species. Placed between hydrographic basins of different geological ages, it is of great biological relevance. Only 570 people in 5 communities inhabit the area. The Associação Amazônia, largely composed of people belonging to the local communities, has been working in the region since 1991.

This project aims to set-up and test a methodology for landscape mapping of Amazonia to assess the biological diversity by applying the knowledge and know-how of the local communities and involving them in remote sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. The Convention on Biological Diversity requires the application of the knowledge of local communities. The Subsidiary Bodies for Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) said that traditional and indigenous people have the knowledge and perspectives that should be included in current taxonomic systems. Scientific taxonomy covers more species than indigenous taxonomy, yet it covers only 10% of existing species. According to the “ecosystem approach” biodiversity assessment also requires identification and assessment of ecosystem and habitats. Remote sensing of the Amazon and applying the knowledge and know-how of the local communities will provide baseline data sets of pristine biotopes against which “trouble spots” can be monitored.

Data collection methodology for biodiversity assessment include the following:

  • Verbal accounts by local communities will be numerically coded and inserted into the GIS making them amenable to GIS processing.
  • Biodiversity surveys using traditional methodologies will be compared with the traditional knowledge assessment and remote sensing and GIS vegetation mapping. This comparison of traditional results with the new methods will calibrate the new methodologies that use local knowledge, remote sensing and GIS.

In addition to testing new methodologies for biodiversity assessment, this project aims to contribute to:

  • Environmental education focusing on the economic benefits of protection and sustainable utilization of biodiversity
  • Establish Leapfrog Technology (Computers, GIS, GPS, Internet) in Amazonia
  • Create local community friendly computer interfaces
  • Capacity building for bio-prospecting, within the framework of the “Extractive Reserves” concept developed by Chico Mendes and Mary Helena.

The project is an exercise in sustainable development: it aims to create new jobs, raise the living conditions of the local communities and encourage them to remain in the forest.

Further Reading:

Fabbro, L. Amazonia Biodiversity Estimation using Remote Sensing and Indigenous Taxonomy, Paper presented at the European Space Agency Symposium 2000 held in Gothenburg Sweden 16-20 October 2000. Published on the ESA site at and also available on the Associacao Amazonia website at

-- Luigi Fabbro

Aquatic Fauna of the Paraná River System - A Baseline for Ecosystem Understanding and Sustainable Use

The Paraná River, the second largest river in South America, is characterized by highly heterogeneous environmental conditions that have made it a long-term center for the development of biological diversity. The protection and sustained use of such systems require understanding the framework set by critical abiotic parameters, and the resulting ecological roles, needs and tolerances of the inhabitant biota. The latter aspects, however, cannot be evaluated without solid knowledge of the fauna at the level of the species.

In addition, a multinational waterway (Hidrovia), is threatening to significantly alter floodplain inundation patterns by increasing river discharge. Scientific research in these areas should be quickly intensified to avoid permanent damage to critical ecosystem functions and the irreversible loss of information necessary for sound restoration measure and the development of sustained utilization practices.


  • To compile a taxonomic inventory of the aquatic animal fauna of the Paraná.
  • To characterize the various river channel and floodplain water-body types and habitats, and to evaluate their respective contributions to ecosystem functions.
  • To evaluate the effects of existing and proposed anthropogenic alterations to key ecosystem properties, specifically those of impoundments and waterway construction.
  • To establish a comprehensive database providing background information for monitoring and guidelines for the conservation and sustainable utilization.

Approach and methodology
Eight sampling localities at critical points in the drainage will be surveyed at high and low water levels, the two periods with maximal differences in faunal composition. At each locality, a sample transect across the river and adjacent floodplain will cover a representative selection of the existing types of water bodies and habitats: phytal, pelagial (plankton and nekton), benthal, and interstitial. Identifications and ecological interpretations will be performed for a group of 15 higher-rank taxa [Protozoa (in particular Testacea Lobosia); Porifera, free-living Plathelminthes (Turbellaria); Rotifera (Monogononta); Mollusca (Gastropoda); Annelida (Oligochaeta); Chelicerata (Hydracarida); Crustacea (Phyllopoda, Cladocera, Copepoda, Syncarida, Ostracoda); Insecta (Diptera: Chironomidae, Ephemeroptera); Fishes] selected as characterizing the freshwater fauna.

Expected results

  • A database to aid conservation and sustained utilization of the Paraná and comparable systems in other world regions.
  • Better understanding of patterns and processes in large river/floodplain ecosystems, including the effects of human impact on biotic and abiotic system components and the overall productivity.
  • Significantly improved knowledge on the diversity, systematics, ecology and global biogeographic relations of the South American aquatic fauna.
  • Intensified scientific exchanges between Europe and South America, and practical, international training for young researchers.

The present project would for the first time allow the necessary comprehensive, multi-scale evaluation through simultaneous collections across a wide range of system components and levels, including some not previously studied sub-regions and aspects.

Benefits of the project:

  • Establishment of a database to aid future research and management, and to evaluate present and future human impact on the Paraná and comparable systems in other world regions.
  • Improved knowledge of patterns and processes in large and complex river/floodplain ecosystems, including the effects of different flow regimes on individual biotic and abiotic system components and the overall productivity.
  • Invaluable information on diversity and its distribution in one of the world's endangered centers of evolution and biological richness.
  • Species-level inventories of new and previously described taxa across a wide spectrum of the tropical and subtropical South American aquatic fauna. For some groups of organisms such compilations would constitute novel achievements, for the first time ever allowing broader overviews in, for example, biogeography, systematics and phylogeny.
  • Enhancement of scientific collaboration and the transfer of knowledge between Europe and South America.
  • Expert training and practical, international experience for students and young researchers from both continents.

-- Carolina Noreña Janssen

The Avila National Park in Bloom

This project is developing a CD-ROM to tell the national history of the Avila National Park in the valley of Caracas, Venezuela. It will emphasize the geological relations of the Coastal Range with other continents and the Andes. It will feature a remarkable extent of plant species that still remain there as living proof to the prehistory of the coastal range. The presence of these species is attributed to the dramatic climate change and the last great glaciation that occurred 15-20,000 years ago.

The Avila National Park, created in 1958, covers almost 85,000 ha. The park is located in the north central section of the Coastal Range that separates the valley of Caracas from the Caribbean Sea. The region includes vegetation zones of savannas (1000-1500 m) mainly created by fire throughout the centuries, tropical and rain forests (1500-2100 m), and Sub-paramo (2100-2765 m).

The multimedia CD-ROM, tentatively scheduled for completion Fall 2002, will include about 1,800 to 2,000 photos, 5 videos, 20 panoramic views and a tri-dimensional simulation video of the splitting of Pangea, with emphasis on the formation and evolution of the Coastal Range, born about 65,000,000 years ago.

The CD-ROM interactive project shall be divided in chapters, as follows:

  • Vegetal proof of the ‘prehistory’ of the Coastal Range (lichens and a fungi).
  • The valley of Caracas in Indian times, about 700 years ago, before the Spanish conquistadors arrived. To show its natural vegetation, blooming plants all the year round, several wildlife, birds, butterflies; meaning of several modern place Submits of Indian origin, etc.
  • Colonization of the valley of Caracas through agriculture (1500-1600), with the resulting modification of the original landscape, illustrated through a number of pictorial renderings by painters and photos of the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Extent vegetation of Mount Avila meant as an ‘open-air’ museum. This is the most important chapter of the project. It implies a review of the most common species found by any visitor or hiker along the paths throughout the mountain, from Caracas (1,000 m above sea level) to the highest top (Pico Naiguata, 2765 m above sea level). This chapter shall be subdivided according to the vegetation zones in:
    • 1000 to 1500 m above sea level: Savanna vegetation on most of the surface, and gallery arboreal vegetation along the ravines
    • 1500 to 2100 m above sea level: Forest vegetation
    • 2100 up to 2765 m above sea level: Sub-paramo vegetation


  • Every chapter and subchapter will begin with a short video introducing the general subject to be analyzed.
  • A special chapter will include a number of panoramic views of different aspects of the national park.
  • Another section will include a set of interactive quizzes.

Purposes of the project:

  • To emphasize the importance of the Avila National Park as an ‘open air’ museum, where we still find living witnesses of the early stages of the evolution of our planet since Gondwana times till the last great glaciation with its present-day consequences.
  • To emphasize the importance of the natural forests of Mount Avila as oxygen suppliers, and fans which make the spring climate of Caracas possible.
  • To develop in the general public the spirit of observation and the interest in the study of nature.
  • To make people understand that pyromania in the Avila National Park (a very common problem) is absolutely negative and senseless, since it destroys vital resources and endangers the existence of the city and the welfare of its inhabitants.
  • To help people know many floristic species which they meet in their daily life or in their weekend trips.
  • To fill an almost absolute absence of works intended to promote a mass diffusion of the most common floristic aspects of the rich tropical vegetation of the region.
  • To develop culture and science through the observation and analysis of the every-day aspects of life.

Click here for images from the upcoming CD-ROM - *caution - graphic intensive*

--Federico Alberto Prieto Martinez

BIOPAT: Biodiversity of freshwater fishes in Patagonia
Argentine Patagonia contains one of the lowest fish species richness of cold temperate areas in the world. Species across a large number of lakes and rivers are exposed to a rich mosaic of limnological conditions where fish community structure varies across environmental gradients. A main drawback is that a good knowledge of native species distribution and abundance is not yet fully available and potential interaction with exotic salmonids introduced since the beginning of 1900 and their impact, is also not well understood at a broad spatial scale. The native species lack of recreational interest and most small size or habitat use make them difficult to sample.
The aim of this project is to determine the state of native fish. Such information is necessary to provide a conceptual basis to preserve and restore natural biodiversity in Patagonian freshwater ecosystems.
Specific objectives are:
  • To assess native fish fauna richness, distribution and population abundance across different Patagonian basins, particularly for those lakes and rivers where information is poor or absent.
  • To provide information on environmental conditions related to species distribution
  • To develop protocols for native fish observations and sampling
  • To assess how exotic species interact with native species under different limnological scenarios
  • To identify and assess potential candidates for biodiversity enhancement at the watershed and single aquatic environment level
  • To develop guidelines for exotic species management in a template of native fish preservation
Project is at a preliminary stage but intensive sampling programs are scheduled for January-February 2002. The projects is searching for additional funding. Interested parties who seek new research parties in this region and interested in developing a cooperative scientific agreement are encouraged to contact Dr. Baigun.

-- Claudio Baigun


Floristic Diversity of Bolivia – From Collection to Cognition and Conservation (website)

The ‘Floristic Diversity’ project, conducted by Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza Noel Kempff (FAN), is exploring the botanic diversity of species rich areas of Bolivia. It synergistically combines research in botany and conservation to increase science-based conservation of Bolivia’s flora.

FAN is discovering many new species. For example in 2001, 13 species of orchids were discovered and described. About 20 previously unknown species are waiting to be described (Orchidaceae, Bromeliaceara, Araceae).

The project has developed a computer program that is a valuable tool for conservation planning. The model (BIOM) allows models of species ranges and species richness patterns. It has been applied to the Bolivian Araceas (see map) and will soon be used for other groups. The model is in publication.

The principal objective is to implement a holistic project that completes the cycle from basic research, to publications of findings, to the application of the findings for conservation. The second goal is to demonstrate how a private non-profit and non-academic institution can contribute to biodiversity inventory conservation in developing countries where institutional gaps are large. New species found in Bolivia in families like orchids and bromeliads are among the highest discovery rates worldwide. Still there are large areas that have been unexplored by botanists. It is estimated that at the end of this project 18,000-20,000 plant species will have been described for these regions.

The botanical survey concentrates on two flagship plant groups:

  • Native plants with ornamental potential (mainly epiphytes; for example orchids and bromeliads)
  • Wild crop relatives (which in Bolivia are especially diverse and neglected. For example: wild peanuts, chilies, potatoes, sugar-cane, quinoa)

Project components include:

  • Field work and inventory
    Field expeditions to unexplored areas, or poorly collected sites, are carried out in order to promote the inventory of phytodiversity of this understudied country. New species for science and new records for the country are permanently registered. The records feed intoa database that is used for biogeography and diversity analyses (see Biogeography and diversity analyses).

    There are field- trips about every two months, mainly to regions close to Santa Cruz, such as the Chiquitano Dry Forest or the Montane Rainforests of the Bolivian Yungas. It is planned to intensify research in the Yungas of La Paz where a principal center of phytodiversity was identified by the FAN team. The project is seeking cooperation with the Missouri Botanical Garden that will intensify inventory in the Madidi National Park in the La Paz department.

  • Living collection (picture)
    FAN is establishing the first scientific living plant collection of Bolivia specialized in native plants with ornamental potential. The living plants can be used for long-term taxonomic and ecological studies. Several new species have been discovered only because plants that were collected without flowers months afterwards bloomed in the collection. The living plant material can also be used for propagation and multiplication purposes (see ex-situ conservation). The collection is located at the FAN property in the city of Santa Cruz.

    FAN is also helping to develop an existing local Botanical Garden that, despite its enormous potential, has never been opened to the public. The FAN intends to combine its efforts with the Botanical Garden. The laboratory at the living plant collection cultivates over 700 species, mainly orchids and bromeliads, but also cultivates araceae, cacti, and others. The collection has been established for scientific purposes. However, the collection is open to suggestions or opportunities for collaboration and expansion. A challenge for the project will be establishing a "showy" part of the collection that might be used for biodiversity education.

  • Taxonomic studies
    Many new species (up to now: Orchidaceae, Bromeliaceae, Velloziaceae) have been described scientifically. FAN intends, in some cases, to involve the public in the taxonomic work by a program for patrons/sponsors of new discoveries (e.g. Maxillaria gorbatschowii sp. nov.). FAN uses molecular data (material to be obtained from plants in the living collection) to understand systematic relationships of certain groups.

    During the last three years, the project has discovered more than 50 new species or new records for Bolivia.

    • Download a list of new taxa recently described (with years of publication) or to be described (in preparation) by researchers participating in the IBOY as a Satellite Project. (Pdf)
  • Biogeography and diversity analyses
    Old and new collection data are processed using modern informatic tools, such as databases and Geographical Information Systems (GIS), to extrapolate ranges of single species and patterns of higher taxa diversity in order to provide technical input for conservation planning. FAN has developed a computer program that allows the modeling of species ranges and species richness patterns. The model (BIOM) has been applied to the Bolivian Araceas (see map) and will soon be used for other groups. The model is in publication.
  • In-situ conservation
    FAN is directly involved with in-situ conservation activities co-managed with the government, e.g. the Noel Kempff National Park, recently declared by UNESCO as the first Bolivian Natural World Heritage Site. The Science Department is involved in projects of eco-regional and bio-corridor conservation planning. Among others, the team tries to use the results of diversity analyses (see biogeography and diversity analyses) for a more appropriate conservation plan (gap analyses etc.). Conservation priorities are identified by GIS-integration of socioeconomic and biological data.
  • Ex-situ conservation
    FAN has established one of the most modern tissue culture labs of Bolivia in order to provide adequate technology for conservation purposes. In the long run FAN plans on concentrating its efforts on endangered taxa of wild crop relatives. In their case, complementary conservation efforts are especially justified, because it is quite probable that in-situ conservation will not be able to save all relevant species. Currently, a first phase of capacity building, technology transfer and experimentation (e.g. working with students) is being concluded.

  • Publications, presentations and outreach:

Recent findings have been published in the Journal of the Bolivian Society of Botany, Revista de la Sociedad Boliviana de Botanica. In addition, the first Bolivian publishing house dedicated to biodiversity and conservation was created. Among the first publications is a book on the Bolivian orchids (first volume) and an interactive CD-ROM of the bromeliads. One project supports the development of a methodology for plant guides and elaborating two already published plant guides for the Noel Kempff National Park. Another major, and important, project is the second volume of the series on the orchids of Bolivia (Vasquez & Ibisch). This book is to be published in early 2002.

FAN's communication department regularly informs the public (mainly through press communications, and by e-mail) about any research advances. More important publications are presented to the local public in presentation events with slide shows etc.

Recent activities include:

  • Outreach:
    FAN organized the first Bolivian orchid exhibition with scientific presentations in Santa Cruz. There were about 600 participants, and the exhibition was featured in press articles and television news. (picture)
  • Meetings Convened:
    Conservation of Biodiversity in the Andes and the Amazon Basin", 24.-28.09.2001, Cusco, Peru
  • Publications:
    • Ibisch, P. L. (2001): Tillandsia maxima Lillo & Hauman 1917, Tillandsia maxima Strangeways 1822 oder Tillandsia australis Mez 1919? Synonym oder Homonym? Die Bromelie 2/2001: 50-51.
    • Vásquez, R., P.L. Ibisch & E. Gross (2002): Eine neue Deuterocohnia (Bromeliaceae) aus Chuquisaca, Bolivien. Die Bromelie 1/2002: 4-10.
    • Download (pdf) - Ibisch, P.L., C. Nowicki, R. Müller & N. Araujo (2002): Methods for the assessment of habitat and species conservation status in data-poor countries - case study of the Pleurothallidinae (Orchidaceae) of the Andean rain forests of Bolivia. In: Bussmann, R.W. & S. Lange (eds.): Proceedings of the first international congress "Conservation of Biodiversity in the Andes and the Amazon Basin", 24.-28.09.2001, Cusco, Peru. 225-246.
    • Vásquez, R. & G. Coimbra. Frutas silvestres de Santa Cruz. 2nda edición. Editorial FAN, Santa Cruz (in press).
    • Hetterscheid, W.L.A., P.L. Ibisch & E.G. Gonçalves: Two new taxa for the tribe Spathicarpeae (Araceae) from Bolivia. Brittonia (in press).
  • Presentations:
    • P. L. Ibisch: Nuevos conceptos para la identificación de prioridades para la conservación. Buscando Prioridades para la Conservación. Desarrollo y Aplicación de Herramientas Científicas de Punta. TROPICO/The Nature Conservancy/FAN, Salón Auditórium, La Paz, 5.4.2002.
    • R. Vásquez & P. L. Ibisch: Diversidad y conservación de las orquídeas de Bolivia. Centro Cultural Portales / Fundación Simón I. Patiño, Cochabamba, 17.1.2002.
    • C. Nowicki, P.L. Ibisch, R. Müller & N. Araujo: Methods for the assessment of habitat and species conservation status in data-poor countries - case study of the Pleurothallidinae (Orchidaceae) of the Andean rain forests of Bolivia. Vortrag: Conservation of Biodiversity in the Andes and the Amazon Basin", 24.-28.09.2001, Cusco, Peru.
    • M. Rex, R. Horres, G. Zizka, P. L. Ibisch & K. Weising: RAPD and MP-PCR analysis of Bolivian Fosterella (Bromeliaceae). Poster: Botanikertagung 2001, Bielefeld, 9/2001.

Additional funding is required especially for the ex-situ conservation activities and publications. Interested parties should contact Dr. Pierre Ibisch.

The Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza Noel Kempff (FAN) is one of the most important conservation non-governmental organizations in Bolivia. FAN’s science department provides scientific backstopping for the general biodiversity conservation activities and, among others, develops methods for diversity and conservation assessments.

-- Pierre L. Ibisch

Guayana nature and biodiversity

This interactive CD-ROM features pictures, movies, and texts to describe and illustrate scenic views, animals, and plant species peculiar to the Guyana area. The Guyana area includes the Canaima National Park (3,000,000 ha) and is part of the Guayana shield, one of the “most ancient lands in the world.”

The CD aims to:

  • emphasize the importance of the Canaima National Park, and in particular the Gran Sabana region for its outstanding natural scenery, animals and flora.
  • produce a visual tool useful for students to reinforce their knowledge of nature.
  • develop in tourists and the general public the spirit of observation, and an interest in the study of nature.
  • show the most common and/or important natural features, animals and plants that might be observed when visiting this area.
  • contribute to a mass diffusion on the presence, behavior and beauty of a meaningful number of animals and plants of the studied area.
  • involve the general public in the defense of natural habitats as a basic condition for the survival of biodiversity, as well as for human welfare and enjoyment.

The CD is divided into the following chapters:

  • Guayana biodiversity
  • Guayana waterfalls and other scenic views
  • Man Guayana mammals
  • Common and peculiar birds of the area
  • Reptiles of the Guayana region
  • Botanical species
  • Quiz

The release date of the CD-ROM is August-September 2002.

-- Federico Prieto Martinez

The Howler Monkeys of Cuero y Salado

Central America has one of the highest deforestation rates in the tropics resulting in degradation of the natural environment. Honduras, the second poorest country in Latin American, has seen a large portion of their forests transformed into monocultures of exported goods to the developed nations. Local environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs) are campaigning within Honduras for protected areas that contain tracts of forests within a multitude of ecological zones. One such area is on the north coast in the province of Atlantida, Cuero y Salado. This mangrove wildlife refuge, positioned on what was once Standard Fruit land (a subsidiary of Dole), is a 15 kilometer square region, that is wet forest and mangrove canals which contain unstudied populations of flora and fauna including: manatees, birds, monkeys, and other life forms.

The mantled howler monkey, Alouatta palliata (picture), is commonly found in many of the currently existing forests on the north coast of Honduras. The species is known to exist from sea-level forests to high mountain ranges, in large pristine tracts and in fragments of forests. There has been little research on how howler monkeys survive in wet lowland and mangrove forests, limiting conservation efforts. Howlers are known to play an important ecological role, as they are one of the largest-bodied arboreal mammals in the Neotropics. In addition, they are important as seed disperses; spreading the resources needed for regeneration in degraded forests.

What will happen during IBOY

Anthropologist and Environmental Researcher Kymberley Anne Snarr is examining the feeding ecology of the mantled Howlers; using data collected in three ways:

  • Forest Transect to provide intimate knowledge of the composition of the trees and vegetation of the forest.
  • General Broad Survey of local people to provide knowledge about: the people living in Cuero y Salado, their interactions, practices and beliefs toward the monkeys and the forests, the areas where the monkeys use particular forest habitats and general mammal populations.
  • Focal Troop Work to provide a closer view of daily activities, basic social patterns and behaviors about two specific troops of howler monkeys.

The project will bring about a better understanding of the forest composition in the refuge, the wildlife and the peoples' attitude to the nature that surrounds them. Importantly, an in-depth understanding of the resources the Howler Monkeys use will aid future conservation projects including The Foundation for Cuero y Salado - FUCSA.

Currently, project findings are shared with University students of CURLA - Centro Universitario Regional del Litoral Atlántico from the local campus of UNAH - Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras, individual discussions following semi-formal interviews with the residents of Cuero y Salado, and local biologists working for the Ministry of Forestry and Protected Areas both in La Ceiba, Honduras and nationally in Tegucigalpa, Honduras (the capital). Preliminary findings are being presented at the Congreso de Primatologia del Nuevo Mundo in Colombia with the proceedings to be published in the report. A formal presentation of the material and findings will also be presented to FUCSA and the Ministry of Forestry and Protected Areas.

Popular press article

-- Kymberley Anne Snarr

Inventory of cloud forests in Maquipucuna, Ecuador

An inventory of the vascular plants of the Maquipucuna preserve and buffer zones has been completed after a decade of field work. The inventory, which enumerates over 1,600 species in a core area of 5,000 ha and buffer zone of 20,000 ha, is in press and will appear in the University of California Publications in Botany series in 2001. The flora of the area is mostly cloud forest at intermediate elevations (1200--2800 m) on the western slopes of Ecuadorian Andes west of Quito. Botanical exploration of the area is continuing by botanists from the University of California and the Herbario Nacional, Quito, with support from the Fundacion Maquipucuna. The continually updated inventory will serve as a baseline for biodiversity studies of Andean cloud forests, and will provide data for biogeographic studies and a floristic manual of the vascular flora in the cloud forests of Pichincha Province, Ecuador.

--Grady Webster

Mediterranean Flora of Central Chile

The project will provide an objective evaluation of the real conservation status and needs of the flora of an internationally recognized hotspot, Chile. Rarely has a full set of existing protected areas been fully inventoried in any part of the world. It will draw attention to the need for collaboration of the private sector for biodiversity protection, and highlight the effect of present land-use patterns. Also, attention will be drawn to the high costs of biodiversity exploration in the present century and of the relative merits of "obtaining more field data" versus conservation modeling. It will highlight what can and cannot be done in a rapidly developing country, where scientific manpower is still very limited.

The aims of the project are to:

  • assess the value of a large number existing state protected areas in central Chile for plant biodiversity conservation
  • determine effect of land-use on species habitat availability
  • arrive at an optimal set of reserves for the flora of the central Chilean hotspot
  • determine the degree of invasion of protected areas.

A total of 13 protected areas will be fully inventoried in a first phase of four years. Based on species-accumulation analysis for 0.5º x 0.5º grids, exploration of poorly collected areas in central Chile will be intensified through fieldwork. Algorithms such as World map will be applied to detect priority conservation areas. A comprehensive specimen-based database will be overlaid on recent land-use survey to detect habitat erosion, using GIS.

The project was initiated in 1998, and, in its first phase is expected to end in early 2002. Published products are beginning to appear, following a major field effort of three years, and recompilation of existing floristic data for all of central Chile. The near-expected products are floristic catalogs, analytical scientific papers addressing priority conservation areas, web pages, and eventually books. In that full knowledge of the entire floras of all protected areas will be available, this will be the first study of its kind for a species-rich and highly endemic Mediterranean-type climate area. The information generated is expected to be vital for future Red Data book assessments, and efforts to incorporate the private sector in biodiversity conservation.

-- Mary T.K. Arroyo

Pernambuco Biodiversity Assessment and Atlas (website)

The Secretary of Science, Technology and Environment of the Pernambuco State is coordinating a great effort to produce the first "Pernambuco Biodiversity Atlas." Pernambuco is a state in northeastern Brazil that includes the famous Brazilian archipelago island of Fernando de Noronha, unique for its volcanic origin and marine ecosystem. Pernambuco harbors different ecosystems, ranging from mangroves to the Atlantic Forest. The dominant vegetation in Pernambuco is Caatinga, a type of tropical dry forest characterized by a number of endemic species.

Four modules compose this project:

  • diagnostic of the biodiversity in Pernambuco, an effort to assemble taxonomic and distribution data for different groups of organisms and asking experts to write synthetic articles
  • organization of the datasets obtained from the previous module and production of several kinds of biodiversity maps
  • organization of a workshop to define priority areas and actions to conserve biodiversity
  • dissemination of the results through the World Wide Web, two books: DiagnUstico da Biodiversidade de Pernambuco and Atlas da Biodiversidade de Pernambuco and other sources.

The results of this project will provide land managers, planners, scientists, and policy makers with the information that they need to make better-informed decisions.

-- Jose da Silva

Stream Biodiversity Monitoring Training Center

Dr. William O. McLarney, the founder and director of ANAI, "Linking conservation and sustainable development for the world's tropics" and the Talamanca Biomonitoring Chair in Costa Rica, is working to link biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Talamanca is at once Costa Rica's most biologically and culturally diverse region and its poorest. There is now a local demand for biomonitoring information, and ANAI is striving to make stream biomonitoring an integral part of Talamancan life. The Stream Biomonitoring Training Center in association with the Upper Little Tennessee River Watershed Project (North Carolina and Georgia, USA) is being used as a training site for personnel from the Talamanca canton of Costa Rica. The overarching theme is to contribute to making a concern for biodiversity an integral part of local culture.

The term "Stream Biodiversity Monitoring Training Center" does not presently apply to any physical place, but rather to a set of activities ongoing in Talamanca. In this largely volunteer-staffed project, biodiversity monitoring is the major tool applied toward environmental education and citizen action on behalf of the watershed. Participants range from middle school students to retirees, from disadvantaged youths to county officials. We will be able to increase both the level of local participation and the degree of sophistication of local involvement in development and biodiversity conservation planning and decision-making. This fully developed stream biomonitoring project, now in its 14th year, has been used as a training site for individuals from Talamanca in the past, and is available for that purpose during 2001-2002 and beyond.

In Talamanca, the stream work will gradually be linked with other ongoing ANAI program areas, including organic agroforestry, sustainable forest management, monitoring of neotropical migratory and resident birds and community-controlled ecotourism, as well as with a sea turtle conservation project, which already functions as an important international training site.

By the end of 2002 we expect to have in place all of the elements necessary to make stream biomonitoring a fixture in Talamancan life, with capacity to respond to local concerns and involve local citizens in many capacities. We also expect to have in place the basic framework of a training program and facility to serve other institutions and individuals in the tropics with an interest in biomonitoring.

Once the stream program is running at full capacity we anticipate that the Biomonitoring Program will increasingly integrate these and other projects in an effort to make biodiversity conservation a core value in Talamanca, and monitoring of biodiversity a basic tool for measuring the success, not only of explicit conservation measures, but also of land management and development initiatives. The first steps toward this integration are already being taken in the form of discussions and meetings within the ANAI staff and associates.


-- William McLarney

Venezuelan Guayana Nature in the Caroní River Parks

The Caroní River is estimated to be one of the richest rivers in the world for its production of alluvial gold and diamonds and for its hydro electrical potential. Five-river parks stand on the northeastern border of the Guayana Shield, a large crystalline metamorphic landmass, estimated to be between 3.6 - 2.7 billion years old. The river basin is between 3.4º and 8.4º N latitudes and 64.1º W longitudes. Together, these parks cover an area of about 3.422 hectares of a sanctuary for wildlife. Its total length is 840 kilometers and its surface area 95 kilometers squared.

The importance of the Caroní river parks is threefold:

  • Since the Caroní river basin is the most dynamic development area in Venezuela, and its main goal is the hydroelectric power generation, these parks are intended to protect four dams that are being built a distance of 60 km between Guri and Ciudad Guayana.
  • Mostly extensive natural or man-made savannas, and virgin tropical forests cover this section of the area around the Caroní River. Thousands of botanical species were recorded and are being brought to public knowledge through nine volumes of the Flora of the Venezuelan Guayana. Local pressure exists to develop this area for its economic and demographic potential. It is very important to show the people that gold and money are not the main values on earth; instead, pure water, atmosphere, and nature are the essential resources for human and local welfare.
  • The ravaging beauty of La Llovizna and Cachamay waterfalls draws about a million visitors a year.

A CD-ROM, to present the wild fauna and flora of the parks to a broad audience, will be produced and made available during IBOY. Due to the urbanization and major change in the lifestyle environment of local communities, the people have become unaware of surrounding nature and its importance to human welfare. This CD-ROM is intended mainly for outsiders and national visitors as a means to draw the parks to the attention of the local politicians.

Over 450 botanical species and a number of local wildlife are shown on CD-ROM containing over 1,000 pictures, more than 20 videos, information, quizzes and trivia. Much care was put in order to produce a balanced presentation of the most common vegetation of each natural environment studied (be it savanna, a deciduous forest, a water body or a grasslands) where several native or introduced species were left on place, or were planted for shading or landscaping. Emphasis is put on the blossoming season for each botanical species. Language is meant for the general public. The purpose of this product is not to present a complete checklist of botanical species and of wildlife; instead, we concentrated on the plants which are more common, outstanding, showy or have any economical or cultural meaning, especially the ones any tourist may easily observe when he visits or wanders around in the parks.

The purpose of this product is to present economical and cultural meaning to possible tourists. This electronic book shall also have a great educational importance in schools, libraries, and universities in Venezuela. We hope this important project will influence executives and politicians to take efficient provisions to defend nature in Guayana and to stimulate related projects in the future.

A two-page article about the development of the CD-Rom was published in El Correo del Caroní (picture) on July 2, 2001 entitled "La Naturaleza de Guayanean los Parques del Caroní".

The CD-ROM has placed second in the Digital Books category of the Premio Calidad Editorial 2001 contest. This annual award is given by the Centro Nacional del Libro (CENAL), and is a prestigious Venezuelan editorial prize. CENAL selected the CD-ROM to represent Venezuela at international book fairs. Past book fairs include the 15th Feria Internacional del Libro de Bogotá (Colombia International Book Fair) from April 24 to May 6, and in the V Feria Internacional del Libro de Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic International Book Fair) from April 25 to May 5. The project was shown at an interactive kiosk.

Screenshot from CD-ROM featuring IBOY

-- Federico Alberto Prieto Martinez


Last updated December 4, 2002

IBOY took place during 2001 and 2002 and is now completed. Information on the projects, activities and products that took place during IBOY are available on these pages. Many of the projects are still continuing their research and education activities and links to their homepages can be found on the project pages.

For more information on on-going activities of IBOY's parent organization, DIVERSITAS, see

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