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Biodiversity, Our Heritage
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Itaipu’s concern with the environment started with its draft. Several biodiversity protection measures were developed, aiming to ensure the perpetuation and genetic diversity of flora and fauna of the Paraná River Basin. Since 2003, those actions are under the initiative named Biodiversity, Our Heritage.

Itaipu maintains eight biological reserves and sanctuaries located in Brazil and Paraguay. The protected area, which includes native forest and patches of reforestation, totals more than 40.000 hectares. In Brazil there are the Bela Vista Biological and St. Helena Sanctuarys, while Paraguay manages the Itabó and Limoy Biological Reserves, and the Biological Sanctuarys of Carapa, Tati Yupi Yui and Rupa, and together with the Binational Maracaju Biological Sanctuary. Taken together with the full protection of the reservoir, the Itaipu protected areas total over 100,000 hectares which sequesters more than 730 thousand ton of carbon dioxide.

Besides the protection of vast areas of forest species typical of the region, Itaipu produces seedlings that are provided for the entire Paraná River Basin Part 3 (the part of the basin which is conected with the reservoir). Since 2003, the company allocated more than 3 million seedlings for the region. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that in 2007, the Binational had participated in the global campaign of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to plant 1 billion trees worldwide. The campaign was so successful that it surpassed 7 billion. The company’s contribution to this success was of half a million seedlings.

Studies of the fauna are carried out on the Brazilian side, by the Breeding of Wild Animals of Itaipu Binational (Casib), located in the Bela Vista Biological Sanctuary, near the power plant dam, where more than 800 animals of 43 species have been born, with an offspring survival rate of more than 70%. In addition to Casib, the Roberto Ribas Lange Zoo plays an important role not only in the reproduction of species but also in the dissemination of knowledge, through guided tours and environmental education activities.

The reproductive work concentrates on endangered species in Brazil, and which are rare in the region, such as the gato-do-mato-pequeno (Leopardus tigrinus) Margay (Leopardus wiedii) and ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). Another highlight is the first successful reproduction in captivity in the country of the harpy eagle (Harpya harpyja, the largest bird of prey in the world). This work is complemented by the maintenance of a gene bank cryo-preserved in liquid nitrogen. 

Studies conducted since 1986 on the wildlife estimate that in the protected areas of the reservoir and sanctuaries located on the Brazilian side of the Itaipu Lake there are 44 species of mammals, 305 of birds and 37 of reptiles. On the Paraguayan side, where the native forest has not been as altered, 62 species of mammals and 409 of birds have been observed.

In nature, the researchers have found rare species today, such as the Margay (Leopardus wiedii) and dwarf brocket deer (Mazama nana). One indicator of success of those actions is that many local residents reported the return of species that have long not been seen and are returning to circulate through  the reconnection of the remaining native forests, through the formation of riparian forests and biodiversity corridors.

The Biodiversity Corridor

The Santa Maria Biodiversity Corridor is the link between the forests with full protection of the reservoir and other areas protected by Itaipu (100,000 hectares), with the Iguaçu National Park, an area of 185,000 hectares, passing through the Private Reserve of Natural Heritage -- PRNP, of Ranch Santa Maria.

To build it, it was necessary to engage 42 landowners on the importance of devoting part of their land for the planting of native tree species, forming a corridor of 37 km long (12 km in a straight line). Thus, in 2003, IAP, IBAMA, Itaipu, the Santa Maria Ranch and municipalities of Santa Terezinha de Itaipu and São Miguel do Iguaçu, with the support of the Attorney-General started the work of implementing the Santa Maria Biodiversity Corridor with the awareness-raising phase of the producers.

Nearly all joined early on, convinced of the advantage of adapting their properties for environmental legislation (30 m of riparian forest on each side of the river) without having to expend their resources. Itaipu and local governments contributed with the labor force to build the fence and for reforestation, IAP provided seedlings and IBAMA donated materials to construct the fences (fencing, wire, ratchets and rockers).

Today, the Corridor is almost all in place, leaving only 15 out of the 222 hectares that make up the total project. This area is in addition to another 240 hectares matching the private reserve of Santa Maria Ranch.

The Corridor is on the crest of the divide between the drainage basins of the Parana and Iguaçu rivers. It covers the basin of the Apepu River, which flows into the National Park, and the Bonito River, which flows into the Itaipu reservoir.

To be completed, the project still requires the construction of the second bridge over one lane of the federal road BR-277. When complete, the Corridor will allow the connection between two of the most extensive conservation areas in southern Brazil, the Iguaçu and Ilha Grande National Parks, favoring the spread of genes and the consequent improvement in biodiversity.

Spawning Channel

10 kilometers long, the channel allows the fish to overcome a difference of 120 meters between the Parana River and the reservoir, thus allowing the genetic exchanges necessary to maintain biodiversity. More than 130 species of fish were identified in this system, a very significant number when considering the 169 identified in the reservoir.

 

"Taken together with the full protection of the reservoir, the Itaipu protected areas total over 100,000 hectares."
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