Brazil | The Atlantic Forest & Serra do Mar State Park
6 credits, 5 weeks
Summer 2017 (June 3–July 8)
On the SEE-U Brazil program, students spend 5 weeks learning first-hand about the ecology of and successful conservation practices in the Atlantic Forest. The Atlantic Forest is Brazil’s “other tropical forest,” is geographically disjunct and ecologically distinct from the Amazon Forest. The tropical ecosystems within this region range from evergreen tropical rain forest through semideciduous tropical forests and include a number of special environments, such as mangroves and high-altitude grasslands. As one of Conservation International’s 35 Biodiversity Hotspots, the Atlantic Forest has high faunal and floral biodiversity, with over 20,000 species of plants and 2,200 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians—taxa with 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 high threat, with only 5-7% of the forest remaining 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.
During the SEE-U program, you will travel to and visit several key conservation areas, including Serra do Mar State Park. Here, the rain forest meets the ocean in this largest continuous protected area of the Atlantic Forest. Containing over 40% of all amphibians, birds, reptiles, and mammals in the region, Serra do Mar State Park provides an ideal location for you to study the coastal Atlantic Forest and marine ecosystems of Brazil. There, you will also have the opportunity to explore nearby historic Paraty, a preserved Portuguese colonial and Brazilian Imperial town on the Green Coast of Brazil.
The 2017 course will include a second five day field trip to Itatiaia National Park–the oldest national park in Brazil–and the Matutu Valley Community–a longstanding community in a sustainably managed watershed. Both of these sites emphasize conservation in the context of sustainable development
The course is hosted by Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPÊ), among the largest environmental NGO’s in Brazil. IPÊ has over 20 years of experience in the successful implementation of mammal (e.g., lion tamarin and tapir), bird, and landscape conservation programs in the context of human communities. Their programs are located in a range of environments in the Atlantic Forest, as well as in the Amazon Basin and the Pantanal (the World’s largest freshwater wetland). IPÊ scientists are internationally-recognized experts in species and landscape conservation and contribute to the work the IUCN and other international professional organizations. The SEE-U course uses IPÊ programs as examples of successes in linking environmental and socioeconomic sustainability efforts. Members of the scientific staff interact with SEE-U students on a daily basis, as members of the course’s teaching staff, guest lecturers, or advisors on individual projects.
SEE-U Brazil Program Syllabus (please note this is from a previous year)
Photos (c) T Kittel or Clinton Jenkins