Brazil | The Atlantic Forest & Pau Brasil National Park
6 credits, 5 weeks
Summer 2018: June 1 – July 1
Students participating in the SEE-U Brazil course spend 5 weeks learning about tropical forest ecology and conservation practices in the Atlantic Forest. The Atlantic Forest is geographically and ecologically distinct from the Amazon Forest. The ecosystems within this region include evergreen tropical rainforests, semideciduous tropical forests, mangroves, and high-altitude grasslands. The Atlantic Forest is one of Conservation International’s 35 Biodiversity Hotspots, exhibiting both floral and faunal biodiversity and home to over 20,000 species of plants and 2,200 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. The taxa of the region have high rates of endemism. Among its endemic, endangered primates are four species of lion tamarin and two of wooly spider monkey, the largest Neotropical primate.
While supporting such biodiversity, the Atlantic Forest is under threat. Only 5-7% of the forest remains, and of that much is fragmented or otherwise degraded. Threats include illegal logging and hunting, extraction of valuable timber species, illegal pet trade, land conversion to crops, pasture, and tree plantations, and urban, industrial, and mining development. In such a human-dominated landscape, conservation action can only be successful if coupled with socioeconomic development.
The SEE-U program is hosted by Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPÊ), among the largest environmental NGO’s in Brazil. IPÊ has over 25 years of experience in the successful implementation of mammal (e.g., jaguar, lion tamarin, and tapir), bird, and landscape conservation programs in the context of human communities. Their programs are located across Brazil, but especially in a range of environments in the Atlantic Forest. IPÊ scientists are internationally-recognized experts in species and landscape conservation and are major contributors to the work of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
As a key part of the course, you will experience first-hand IPÊ programs that are examples of successful conservation action linking environmental sustainability and socioeconomic development. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to interact with IPÊ scientists serving throughout the course as instructors, guest lecturers, or advisors on individual projects.
During SEE-U, you will visit major conservation areas in the Atlantic Forest including Pau Brasil National Park in northeastern Brazil. The park is part of the Central Atlantic Forest Ecological Corridor, a region of high biodiversity containing 60% of primates and 50% bird species found only in the Atlantic Forest. In this area, you will be able to meet with leaders of an indigenous reserve and a sustainable farm community and explore the beaches of Porto Seguro.
Example: SEE-U Brazil Program Syllabus
Photos (c) T Kittel or Clinton Jenkins