Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas

Winner of the Whitley Award in 2002, considered the Oscar for Biodiversity Conservation, IPÊ researcher Laury Cullen Jr. is now one of the 13 Whitley Continuation Funding winners. The Whitley Fund for Nature (England) award is aimed at conservationists around the world, with the aim of ensuring scale for projects already supported once by the organization.

Laury is a forest engineer and dedicates his profession to restoring one of the most fragmented areas of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, Pontal do Paranapanema, in the West of São Paulo. With the Corridors for Life project, he coordinated the planting of the largest corridor ever reforested in Brazil, which connects two importants Protected Areas of the Atlantic Forest: the Morro do Diabo State Park (PEMD) and the Mico-Leão-Preto Ecological Station. The corridor, which passes inside the Rosanela farm, has 12 kilometers and 2.4 million trees planted. It was born from the need to conserve rare and endemic species (which only exist in that region) such as the black lion tamarin, which live in what remains of the local Atlantic Forest.

The Atlantic Forest corridors are the result of a long term strategic study for planting forests in areas relevant to the fauna and flora of that region. In addition, it is the result of many partnerships between all sectors: government, private and non-government. The project considers, mainly, social participation as one of its greatest achievements: it brings income generation to families, new ways of producing and helps to build new sustainable businesses, for example, with community nurseries. Here's how it happens. “This is another major step in the mission to reconnect the Pontal do Paranapanema forest. We have been working on this for over 25 years and we are sure to make a big leap thanks to the Whitley fund. It is an award for us, from IPÊ, but above all, for the Atlantic Forest ”, celebrates Laury.

The forest corridors today are no longer limited to 12 kilometers. They advanced to the north of the PEMD and, by the end of 2020, there will already be a total of 500,000 more trees planted in this portion of the Atlantic Forest that needs to be reconnected. To the north, a new corridor is already formed by the project led by Laury and carried out by the team of IPÊ professionals in Pontal: Haroldo Borges Gomes, Nivaldo Ribeiro Campos, Aline Souza, Maria das Graças Souza, Williana Marin and Aires Cruz. In all, with the project, IPÊ currently has around 2.9 million trees planted. With Continuation Funding, it will be possible to plant 500 hectares of forest in two years. In other words, there will be another 1 million trees in the Atlantic Forest, which will generate climatic benefits, offsetting 43,000 tons of carbon; that they will support the conservation of endangered species such as the black lion tamarin and the Brazilian tapir; and that will provide restoration work opportunities for local communities. 

“Restoration in Oeste Paulista is the most interesting path for development and the local economy. The forest deficit in the region is almost 60,000 hectares. Our goal is to restore 5,000 hectares in five years. There is a forestry need, but it is also an economic and social outlet of great relevance. With reforestation, it is possible to generate U$ 10 million in the region's economy, U$ 1.2 million in community nurseries and U$ 25,000 in agroforestry products from small rural producers, until 2025. It is something promising, which benefits companies, government sectors, biodiversity and, of course, society ”, he adds.

The Agrobiodiversity project in the lower Rio Negro, in the Amazon is among the initiatives selected by the Unesco Green Citizens campaign. The goal? Attract supporters from different parts of the world to engage in local projects identified as true inspirations towards global change. The Unesco Green Citizens campaign has a platform where you can learn about the projects selected by Unesco teams and groups of observers around the world, based on three criteria: duplicable, innovative and impactful.

Unesco Green Citizens expects to select 100 projects / year. At the moment, about 30 projects are on the newly launched platform, including three Brazilian projects. On the platform, each project has a page that provides an overview of each initiative, photos and a form that allows direct contact between those interested in supporting the initiative - you can be one of them!

On the project form page, you can choose which front you want to support and start the conversation.

Mariana Gama Semeghini, associate researcher at IPÊ, shares how it was to discover that the project she coordinated was among those selected. “At first I was surprised and surprised by Unesco's contact, as I did not register for any Unesco process. But then I was very honored and proud of the nomination. I consider it a recognition of all the work that IPÊ develops in the Lower Rio Negro in partnership with communities and other institutions”.

About the Project

The Agrobiodiversity project in the lower Rio Negro takes place in Manaus and has the participation of Mariana Gama Semeghini, associate researcher at IPÊ, Márcio Arthur Oliveira de Menezes, Leonardo Pereira Kurihara and Thiago Mota Cardoso. The actions started in 2005, with the proposal to combine biodiversity conservation with sustainable development, through agroforestry systems, valorization of local knowledge, and entrepreneurship; all of this in an area threatened by deforestation in the Amazon. To date, the project has directly benefited around 50 families.

The researchers seek to stimulate social and ecological solutions generated in the communities for the development and consolidation of agroecological production systems and agrobiodiversity products (jams, cookies and sweets) aligned with the conservation of biodiversity.

Participatory research, training and exchange of knowledge and experiences between researchers and communities (traditional knowledge and technical / scientific knowledge) are among the strategies identified as a way of valuing local knowledge and contributing to communities' income generation, through entrepreneurship, including the strengthening of local organizations, business partnerships, in addition to marketing based on the principles of solidarity economy and fair trade. It is worth mentioning the training and participation of groups of women from the communities in regional and national markets for the marketing of products. The group also participates in Community Based Tourism tours in the region, with the organization of breakfast made from regional products.

When you look at the news about wildfires in Pantanal, which has already burned 25% of the biome, you can have a have perception of that being the total impacted area nowdays. However, when researchers analyzed the deforested and burnt areas until October 2020, they found that the damage reaches at least 40% of Pantanal.

“The wildfires in Pantanal already passed 28% of its biome. Although, the impact isn’t only this. Today it’s estimated that more than 15% of the region was deforested. There are few overlapping spots between those areas. Considering these two impacts, the data shows that at least 40% of Pantanal is already compromised. This isn’t permanent, Pantanal shows it has a big ability to recover, which we call “resilience”. Although, as in 2020, vast areas were burned, probably the resilience will be smaller when compared to other years”, Rafael Chiaravalloti points out, professor of ESCAS – Escola Superior de Conservação Ambiental e Sustentabilidade (Superior College of Environmental Conservation and Sustainability), researcher of IPE – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute of Ecological Researches) from Smithsonian Conservation Biology (USA) and scientific director of Ecoa – Ecologia e Ação (Ecology and Action).

According to him, the biome needs more time to recover. “It’s the same that happens if we imagine a neighborhood in which one house is destroyed, the neighbors can help recover it, but if many houses gets destroyed, the recovery will take way longer. At Pantanal what we have is the second scenario”.

mapa queimadas pantanal


* According to INPE, the Burned Area product with a 1km spatial resolution is in version 0.6 and is in the validation phase, at the Provisional maturity level.

The map above - with the deforested and burned areas - was developed by the project “Paisagens Sustentáveis” (Sustainable Landscapes) in the Pantanal, a partnership between the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Embrapa Pantanal and IPÊ. “With this map, made by Henrique Shirai who is also a master at ESCAS, who is part of the project team, we want to understand the impact of fires on these sustainable landscapes. We still consider the Pantanal as a biome that can combine conservation with production, but at the same time, the fires shows us that some measures needs to be replanned. The fires are not the end of the Pantanal, but they are certainly a red alert, especially when we analyze the integrated impacts of climate change, increased deforestation in the region surrounding the biome and the construction of hydroelectric plants in the region, which can certainly be a burden to the protection of the Pantanal ”.

The Sustainable Landscapes project in the Pantanal started this year with two main objectives. “Understand what sustainable landscapes in the Pantanal are and accelerate the certification process for sustainable farms; joining efforts with Embrapa Pantanal to expand the Sustainable Pantaneira Farm certification for the entire biome.

Certifications can mainly bring economic benefits to homeowners, such as credit facilities and tax breaks”, Chiaravalloti revealed. The team also includes researcher Dr. Walfrido Tomas from Embrapa Pantanal, Andre Restel Camilo, from Smithsonian, and Dr. Peter Leimgruber, also from Smithsonian. Rafael also points out that the approval of the Pantanal Law, can help reinforce the alliance between conservation and production, and could represent an important advance for the region. “.

The Article 10 of the New Forest Code highlights the Pantanal as a peculiar environment that needs specific regularization. With alignment between landowners and conservationists, we could celebrate with the Pantanal Law what many farmers have been doing for 150 years. Some farmers want what conservationists want - sustainable development, and we need to move towards that goal. ”.

About the drought in the Pantanal, the ESCAS professor highlights factors that aggravate the situation. “The current scenario is not an exclusive consequence of drought cycles, there are also the issues of PCHs – “Pequenas Centrais Hidrelétricas” (Small Hydroelectric Plants) that reduce the dynamics of flooding in the biome, in addition to deforestation and global warming that make the prospects even more complicated. Waterway projects also have the potential to reduce this flooding dynamic in the Pantanal”.


Hey Guys! My name is Oliver Mahoney.

Two of my favorite things are athletics and the environment!
In 2021, I am going to take part in the Lisbon Marathon, I'll run 42 kilometers, for which I am already well on my way training hard.

In 2018, I got to know about IPÊ, an organization which conducts important wildlife-saving research, and in the past few years, I've thought a lot about how to support the organization and get people involved from Wales, where I live.

The logical step was to combine the two things I love most; athletics and the environment.
I created the Instagram account @oligreenmarathonipe to share my training and progress with you all and also talk some more about the work being done by IPÊ!

Of course, I'll be relying on any support which you guys can give, using it to help the institute plant trees for the conservation of one of the world's most important resources, water!

My objective is to run the Marathon in May having raised enough money to plant a minimum of 3000 trees! I mean, who knows? Maybe together we can do even more than that!

The trees will be planted throughout the Atlantic Forest, a protected reserve area for both endangered species and for water resources.

Follow everything on Instagram, myself (@oligreenmarathonipe) and, of course, IPÊ (@institutoipe).

You'll see all sorts of information about the environment, be entertained by some sports and help support conservation of Brazil's forests which are key to the global climate! 




Species distributions are influenced by both climate conditions and landscape structure. Here we propose an integrated analysis of climatic and landscape niche‐based models for a forest‐dependent primate, the endangered black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus). We applied both climate and landscape variables to predict the distribution of this tamarin and used this information to prioritize strategic areas more accurately. We anticipated that this approach would be beneficial for the selection of pertinent conservation strategies for this flagship species. First, we built climate and landscape niche‐based models separately, combining seven algorithms, to infer processes acting on the species distribution at different scales. Subsequently, we combined climate and landscape models using the EcoLand Analysis. Our results suggest that historic and current landscape fragmentation and modification had profoundly adverse effects on the distribution of the black lion tamarins. The models indicated just 2096 km2 (out of an original distribution of 92,239 km2) of suitable areas for both climate and landscape. Of this suitable area, the species is currently present in less than 40%, which represents less than 1% of its original distribution. Based on the combined map, we determined the western and southeast regions of the species range to be priority areas for its conservation. We identified areas with high climatic and high landscape suitability, which overlap with the remaining forest fragments in both regions, for habitat conservation and population management. We suggest that areas with high climatic but low landscape suitability should be prioritized for habitat management and restoration. Areas with high landscape suitability and low climatic suitability, such as the Paranapiacaba mountain range should be considered in light of projected climate change scenarios. Our case study illustrates that a combined approach of climatic and landscape niche‐based modeling can be useful for establishing focused conservation measures that may increase the likelihood of success.

Research Highlights

  • Two percent of the black lion tamarin's original distribution is suitable in terms of both climate and landscape.

  • Niche‐based models that combine broad and narrow‐scaled processes are useful for practical conservation prioritization.