Phase 1&2: BIAZA Reserve, Brazil
Phase 1: BIAZA Reserve Project
In 2006 BIAZA teamed up with World Land Trust (WLT), an organisation with over 20 years experience of working in international habitat conservation in order to offer BIAZA members the opportunity to collectively raise enough money to buy an area of threatened wildlife habitat.
Many zoos and aquariums are involved in large or small scale in situ conservation efforts. However, not every zoo can devote the time to identify a viable, value for money and effective in situ conservation project to support. This initiative allows zoos and aquariums to not only contribute towards a fantastic conservation project but also become a part of a larger group of zoos collectively working together towards a larger collaborative conservation output.
Over three years 26 BIAZA members donated over £124,000 towards the purchase of land in the Coastal Atlantic Forest of Brazil. The purpose of this was to extend the 16,000 acres of rainforest owned, managed and protected by WLT’s project partner in Brazil, Reserva Ecológica de Guapi Assu (REGUA).
The BIAZA Reserve project was officially launched at the BIAZA Annual Conference and AGM in 2007. It attracted 25 BIAZA members and BIAZA itself and contributions of all sizes were made by private members, small collections, zoos and large wildlife parks. In 2009, with support from BIAZA members 1,651 acres (668 hectares) of Atlantic rainforest in Brazil were purchased. With only seven per cent of the original Atlantic forest remaining, the creation of the BIAZA Reserve is a fantastic conservation achievement.
In addition to conserving and protecting the land, activities taking place on the rest of the REGUA Reserve include wetland habitat restoration, reforestation, species reintroduction, biodiversity monitoring, ecotourism (a vital income stream for the conservation organisation) and local education programmes. The Atlantic rainforest is an area of high biodiversity, but is also considered to be one of the most critically endangered ecosystems in the world, following severe habitat destruction. Many of the species found in the Atlantic rainforest are represented in BIAZA member collections.
Following on from this success of Phase 1, between 2010 and 2012 BIAZA members progressed on to Phase 2 of the WLT partnership, with their donations funding the salaries, uniforms and basic equipment of two reserve rangers to protect the BIAZA Reserve and the wider Guapi Assu Reserve.
The World Land Trust and BIAZA put together a list of essential costs needed to continue the protection of the BIAZA Reserve and other Atlantic forest area that is protected by REGUA. Members could give as much or as little as they wanted towards items such as a ground level hide on the wetland at REGUA,a school pack for 20 young rangers or individual items for a ranger kit.
The WLT/BIAZA Partnership also led to a six month sabbatical of an Education Officer from Newquay Zoo, volunteering at REGUA, managing the lodge and assisting with visitors and Young Rangers.
Photo credit: Thor Ostbye