IOFoto: SAVE Brasil
Institution in charge: Associação para a Conservação das Aves do Brasil – SAVE Brasil | Association for the Conservation of Brazilian Birdlife
Livestock farming in the southern Pampas has enormous productive potential and offers a solid opportunity to combine food yields with conservation. However, this potential has been largely overlooked in favor of exotic pastures. Faced with such problems as low productivity and a lack of incentives and credit, farmers have switched from husbandry to grain monoculture, an activity that has had a severe impact on the Pampas. The biome, which covers 17.6 thousand km2, 2.07% of national territory (according to Ministry for the Environment), is home to three thousand plant species and 500 species of bird. Only 35% of the original Pampa land cover remains in Brazil.
To tackle the challenge, the project Biodiversity Conservation allied with Livestock Farming in the Pampas provides technical and financial assistance to producers in six municipalities in Rio Grande do Sul, covering a total of 27 thousand km2, home to 326 thousand people and 2.1 million head of cattle distributed across 147 ranches. The result will hopefully be increased productivity on the native pasturelands and a final product with significant added value, which ought to encourage a positive and continuous transformation of the region.
Among the best practices to be promoted are the improvement of native fields—largely replaced by exotic pastures—, recuperation of degraded areas, an adjustment of stocking rates, and fodder planning.
One of the indicators of success will be the qualitative and quantitative monitoring of avifauna, a clear indicator of the state of conservation of the region’s native fields. In addition, wetlands will be fenced off, as these are important breeding and feeding grounds for the saffron-cowled blackbird (Xanthopsar flavus), an endangered species. This measure is also intended to allow the habitat to recover from long periods being trodden by herds.
The initiative’s partners include Alianza del Pastizal, created in 2006 with the aim of integrating rural production and biodiversity conservation in the Pampas of the southernmost South America, the Regional Development Bank of the Far South (BRDE), which supplies credit to farmers, the Rural Union of the Southern Farmlands, the Rio Grande do Sul Departments for the Environment and Sustainable Development—SEMA/RS, and for Agriculture, Husbandry and Irrigation—SEAPI/RS.