Brazil’s Atlantic Forest once covered around 330 million acres, a swath of land roughly twice the size of Texas. Today, more than 85 percent of that forest has been cleared, leaving a fragmented area that puts a great deal of pressure on the remaining wildlife.
A way to lessen that fragmentation has emerged, however, thanks to the efforts of three conservationist organizations. SavingSpecies, Brazilian NGO Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (AMLD) and the Netherlands-based DOB Ecology have purchased the land necessary to create a wildlife corridor stretching across a busy highway that will allow wildlife to circulate out of a biological reserve located in what’s left of the Atlantic Forest.
The corridor will connect the Poço das Antas Biological Reserve to a 585-acre patch of land on the other side of the four-lane highway. The new land will go through a reforesting process; much of it is currently pasture. According to Mongabay, construction of the bridge will begin sometime this month.
“It’s healing a tear in the forest in the place with the greatest number of threatened species,” Stuart Pimm, the chair of conservation at Duke University and the president of SavingSpecies, told National Geographic.
It’s good news for animals like the golden lion tamarin (pictured above), a New World monkey species that has struggled due to habitat loss and is considered endangered. The protection of this monkey has been one of the core goals of the wildlife corridor project.
“This fragmentation and infrastructure cut off tamarin populations from each other,” Pimm said to Mongabay. “Since tamarins live their lives in trees, even high in the forest canopy, a ‘bridge in the canopy’ from one forest to another is necessary for the tamarins to connect to each other.”