USAID Grant Boosts ACA's Work in SW Amazonia
Last October a consortium of leading conservation organizations comprised of ACA, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law, Fundación Puma, and the Fondo de las Americas, was awarded nearly eight million dollars by USAID as part of the Amazon Basin Conservation Initiative.
The funds will support an ambitious binational initiative across the Río Madre de Dios watershed, home to two national parks of global importance: Manu in Peru and Madidi in Bolivia. The five-year initiative is designed to help mitigate imminent threats related to large-scale infrastructure projects like highway construction and oil and gas exploration, by strengthening local organizations that promote protected areas and the sustainable use of natural resources. ACA's long-term support of Brazil nut collectors along SE Peru's soon-to-be-paved Interoceanic Highway is one of many projects that will receive a helping hand from ABCI.
The project will be getting up to speed in 2007, so stay tuned for more news in the next newsletter!
Five extraordinary new books on Amazonia's sprawling river system were recently published with the support of ACA. Authored by an international team of aquatic conservation ecologists, the books distill research results from across the Amazon basin into volumes packed with photos and written for a broad audience. To further increase the books' usefulness, they have been published in English, Spanish and Portuguese versions:
An Unexpected Ecosystem: The Amazon as Revealed by Fisheries
Palms: Sentinels for Amazon Conservation
Amazon River Fruits: Flavors of Biodiversity
Rio Branco: Fishes, Ecology and Conservation in Roraima
Larvae of the Large Migratory Catfish
The books were written by the Amazon Rivers Program team, which brings together scientists and students from the University of Florida, Brazil's Museu Goeldi and National Institute for Amazonian Research, and Peru's Museo de Historia Natural and Wust Ediciones. The team aims to gather and synthesize ecological data to provide the information needed to promote wetlands conservation in the Amazon Basin. Apart from inspiring a new generation of researchers and conservationists in these little-studied ecosystems, these books will have an important impact on headwaters protection and wetlands management in the world's largest river system.
The research was funded by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the books will soon be available through the ACA website.
ACA's four year-old grant program for students and researchers working at Los Amigos recently gave its 100th grant. ACA has now given a total of 108 grants at Los Amigos: 36 to Peruvian undergraduates, 36 to graduate students, and the same number again to established researchers. Fully 60% of ACA grant winners to date have been Peruvian, helping drive a nationwide boom in biodiversity training and research.
Last month ACA awarded the first 15 grants in a similar program for Wayqecha Cloud Forest Research Station. To see a list of the winning projects at Wayqecha, click here. The impact of these programs is easy to measure.
This year alone, they will help more than two dozen students from around the world defend undergraduate, master's and Ph.D. theses based on research done in the Amazon headwaters. Alumni from Los Amigos are now publishing theses and peer-reviewed papers at the rate of more than two per month, on everything from bird morphology to primate behavior to epiphyte distributions
Ensuring that the next generation of tropical scientists has first-hand experience working in the Amazon doesn't come cheaply. Over the last three years we've invested more than half a million dollars in direct grants to students and researchers. Keeping these students' boots muddy, and keeping these programs going, requires your support!
On 15 April the University of California, Davis Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology and the UC-Davis Graduate School hosted a blues concert to benefit ACA. All proceeds will go to our Pampas del Heath Project, which aims to conserve Bolivia's Amazonian savanna ecosystem in partnership with Tacana indigenous communities.
At the concert more than 100 grad students, faculty, and other locals jitterbugged to a potent mix of bluegrass, Brazilian, acoustic, and blues/rock performers.
The Society for Conservation Biology, Davis Chapter is a grad-student run group (see http://scb.ucdavis.edu/about.htm) that provides a link between the world's leading
society of conservation biology professionals and one of the world's top biology programs. The chapter's work with a sister SCB chapter in Bolivia led them to ACA's work in the Pampas, which led to the Biodiversity Blues Benefit Concert.
Our thanks to the performers, to the SCB Davis Chapter, to the UC-Davis Graduate School Association, and to everyone who shook it for the Pampas. We can hear you down here, and it sounds fantastic!
These kids are separated by 6,097 km, but they're pulling together. This spring in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, at Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy's annual education fair, three 6th grade students raised money for ACA with a display on Amazon conservation. At the same time, schoolchildren from the small town of Boca Amigos were visiting ACA's field station in Amazonian Peru, doing field work side by side with resident researchers.
The visit was part of our Science Saturday program, which every week brings together the researchers who've traveled thousands of kilometers to work at Los Amigos and the children who've lived there their whole lives. In one recent outing, Peruvian grad student Ursula Valdez and Colombian grad student Paulo Pulgarín showed the children how they capture birds in mist nets, measure and tag them, and then release them. More recently, Colombian grad student Adriana Guzmán and US grad student Jenny Jacobs led a how-to workshop on insect collections in the children's community.
Thanks to our three allies at Lubavitcher Yeshiva Academy and to all who teach for, learn at, and get excited about the Science Saturdays.
Thank you for reading our Quarterly Newsletter. More news coming up in our next issue!
Banner Photo Credit: ©RAECHEL RUNNING 2007, RMRfotoarts.com
© 2007 Amazon Conservation Association
Our mission: To preserve the biodiversity of the Amazon basin. Our vision: A network of state, community and
private lands managed for conservation and sustainable resource use so that the biological diversity of the
southwest Amazon basin is conserved.