Serra Bonita, Brazil

Status of registration

Instituto Uiraçu is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organisation.

Governance and management structure of the group

Founded in 2001, the Instituto Uiraçu (IU) was created with the purpose of effectively protecting and managing natural areas. The IU concentrates its efforts on three programs:

  1. Land Stewardship — to ensure the protection of the Atlantic Forest biome remnants in the Serra Bonita Reserve Complex (SBRC) through land acquisition, the creation of Private Natural Heritage Reserves (RPPN), as well as implementation, management, monitoring and inspection.
  2. Scientific Research — to enable scientific research in diverse fields of study of the SBRC and its surroundings and produce knowledge about its endemic biology and endangered habitats, as well as anthropic activities in the reserve’s surrounding areas.
  3. Environmental Education — to lead local and regional environmental educational initiatives, increasing society’s awareness and knowledge about threats to the Atlantic Forest biome and environmental services, as well as the impact of human activities on the environment.

The IU pursues its mission by: (1) Acquiring and owning land itself and converting it into official private reserves; (2) Encouraging the acquisition and ownership of land by third parties with shared conservation goals (NGOs, companies and/or individuals); and (3) Working with current landowners to promote the conversion of natural areas into private reserves.

The IU is composed of deliberative, supervisory and executive bodies:

  • General Assembly (28 members)
  • Deliberative Council (7 members)
  • Fiscal Council (2 members and 2 alternates)
  • Executive Board, including the President, Executive Director and two Program Coordinators
  • Associates (14 members, who contribute financially but have chosen not to vote in the General Assembly and do not have any influence on IU’s management).

Exact location, including geographic coordinates

15º27’0”S, 39º34’0”W

Short description of the area and land to be purchased

Ninety percent of the Serra Bonita mountain range is covered with forest. It belongs to the impressively biodiverse Brazilian Atlantic Forest, which includes:

  • 20,000 plant species, of which 8,000 are endemic
  • 298 known mammal species
  • 992 bird species
  • 200 reptile species
  • 370 amphibian species
  • 350 fish species

Nowadays, less than 10{76229fef1c65ec54f714b744dee35717683e96bd3abe133fd00bcc3814711342} of the original forest remains, mostly in small fragments. Because the Serra Bonita Reserve (SBR) shelters predators that require large territories, like the Puma (Puma concolor) and the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja), it is vital to expand the protected area to ensure these species’ survival.

The Serra Bonita mountain range extends about 7,500 hectares. Together, the IU and partner reserve landowners own approximately 3,000 ha of the target area. We estimate an additional 1,000 ha can be bought in the next two years, if the IU raises sufficient funds.

The target land to be purchased with TiME is the Nova Pastora farm (approx. 180 ha).

Main threats

Despite national laws and policies, and the efforts of activists, Atlantic Forest remnants are rapidly being converted into pastures and/or plantations. If forests are not protected, many species endemic to the Atlantic Forest, and still found in the SBR, will disappear in a very short time, including:

The Northern Muriqui (Brachyteles hypoxanthus) became extinct in the Serra Bonita region just before the reserve was created.

Estimated value of a single hectare

US$650

Conservation plan for the purchased land

The IU has created a consortium of partners to support the SBRC initiative. This consortium is formed by three legal entities, which play different roles and individually own portions of the SBR. Together they have worked towards fundraising for land acquisition, surveillance and monitoring of the SBR, the conversion of purchased areas into legally designated Private Natural Heritage Reserves (RPPN), institutional management and the accomplishment of the IU’s three programs (as above). The partners in this consortium are:

  1. Instituto Uiraçu (IU): a non-profit organization with the purpose of acquiring, managing and protecting land, promoting local environmental education, and supporting scientific research. The IU also supports the entire process of land acquisition by third parties, including strategic area identification, negotiation with landowners, and assistance in registering purchased lands as RPPNs. The IU currently owns approximately 688 ha of the SBR.
  2. Reserva Serra Bonita (SBR) Ltd.: the IU’s founding partner and collaborator in scientific research. The SBR Ltd. promotes visits to SBR for scientific and ecotourism purposes (mainly birdwatching). Its headquarters is located at the top of the SBR and includes the Research Centre and the Pousada (inn) for ecotourists and researchers. SBR Ltd. owns approximately 1,670 ha of the SBR.
  3. Agroeorestal Camacan (AFC) Ltd.: a company that produces fine organic cocoa, invests the revenue in land acquisition and protection, and supports the IU financially by providing it with a significant part of its annual budget through a partnership agreement. The AFC currently owns approximately 600 ha of the SBR.

To ensure the SBR’s long-term protection, the consortium aims to attract new partners to buy land in the Serra Bonita mountain range and convert those lands into RPPNs, as well as to assist local landowners to legally protect their existing land.

Part of the consortium’s sustainability strategy is to establish partnerships with national institutions to apply for environmental compensation funds directed to the protection, surveillance and monitoring of natural protected areas and the restoration of degraded areas.

It is important to highlight that Private Natural Heritage Reserves (RPPN) are Conservation Units (protected areas defined in Brazilian Law) in perpetuity and cannot be used for any purpose other than protection of biodiversity.