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Anita Studer

Saving a forest to protect a bird

Published in 1990clockTime to read: 50s
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Swiss biologist Anita Studer’s ambitious project to restore part of Brazil’s Atlantic Forest has resulted in more than 6 million trees being planted – many by local people – thus creating a multiplier effect across the country.

locationBrazil

The tree-planting began in the early 1980s when Studer, who was writing her PhD thesis on a rare, local blackbird (Curaeus forbesi), realized that the bird’s habitat, the Pedra Talhada forest, part of the Atlantic Forest, was disappearing. A flight over the region that had been part of the once-huge forest revealed to her the extent of the deforestation due to increased grazing. Studer resolved that she would save the forest and, with it, the bird that was the focus of her research.

Someone who plants a tree with his or her own hands will think twice before burning trees down to clear the land.

Thanks to Studer’s steadfast commitment over more than three decades and the efforts of the supporters of the Swiss nongovernmental organization Nordesta and other groups, this bird is flourishing in its traditional habitat, which now receives official protection as the Federal Biological Reserve of Pedra Talhada. “There are too many of them to count now,” says Studer of the blackbirds.

Studer has launched reforestation campaigns across Brazil and the Amazon basin. She has set up programmes to raise environmental awareness and give young people work skills, and most recently, she has helped provide houses around Pedra Talhada to ensure the forest’s safety in perpetuity.

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