The ARAÇÁ project is being set up by Alexandre and Anna Antonelli, co-founders of the non-profit Antonelli Foundations for Biodiversity Research and Conservation, with generous support from the Ax:son Johnson family (Antonia Ax:son Johnson, Caroline and Johan Berg). Formal partnerships with national and international organisations will be established over time.
Activities are centred around a 120-hectare property called RPPN Bacchus, a privately-owned reserve covered with primary rainforest near Nova Friburgo (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). See the exact location here. Over time and as funding becomes available, we intend to own or manage additional properties in the region, in order to foster further research and to support conservation and restoration efforts that embrace the needs of local people and support a more sustainable stewardship of land and natural resources.
Why focus on the Atlantic Forest?
For millions of years, the entire eastern coast of what is today Brazil was covered by an exceedingly diverse biome: the Atlantic Forest. But only over the last two hundred years or so, the expansion of agriculture, cities and roads, combined with the exploitation of the rainforest’s precious wood, have led to over 92% of this forest being lost (Tabarelli et al. 2014). The globally outstanding levels of diversity, combined with high conservation threats, have led to the formal designation of the Atlantic Forest as a global biodiversity hotspot (Myers et al. 2000).
Alongside the threats and losses this biome already faces, there is also a great opportunity ahead. Protection of the remaining forests, and restoration of those that have already been degraded, can lead to substantial benefits to biodiversity (by decreasing the threats to species), climate (by capturing and storing carbon), and people (by preventing landslides, providing communities with clean water and air, pollination services, non-timber forest products, income from eco-tourism, and much more).