Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas


Text From WFN

For many people, a love of nature and a passion for its conservation has been inspired by visiting a wild place. However, those of us with the capacity to travel, at an individual or corporate level, are under increasing pressure to consider our carbon footprint.

In the past few years the concept of ‘carbon-offsetting’ has evolved, and there are now a broad spectrum of ways to counteract the environmental impact of the decisions we make.

Following encouragement from our partners and donors, we have developed an tree planting scheme with Brazilian NGO, IPÊ (the Institute of Ecological Research), the organizational backbone of 3 Whitley Award winners.

Whilst this is an informal scheme, it offers an opportunity to directly funnel your donations into a Whitley Award winning reforestation project which is growing a carbon store and building local livelihood capacity.

We will be working specifically with Laury Cullen, Research Coordinator for IPÊ, who is championing a reforestation initiative in the Brazilian Atlantic forest.


Supported by his 2002 Whitley Award, Laury project-managed Brazil’s largest reforested corridor (1,800 ha), connecting two protected primary forest habitats, bringing the black lion tamarin back from the brink of extinction. This most charismatic little monkey has suffered greatly from habitat fragmentation, leading to in-breeding and genetic weakening of the species. Laury is now scaling up his approach, developing more forest corridors, connecting vital Atlantic forest fragments for the black lion tamarin and other threatened animals including jaguars and tapirs.

Laury works with local landowners who grow and sell seedlings, while trained local forestry teams plant and manage the reforested areas. His project is creating significant livelihood opportunities among landowners and in local communities.

By supporting tree planting with WFN and IPÊ you are supporting proven grassroots conservation; driving resilience and bringing about positive change for people and wildlife.


  • We’ll calculate the number of trees required using this calculator platform, and let you know the cost.
  • If you decide to go ahead, we’ll send you a donation link.
  • On receipt of the donation we’ll write to you personally, detailing the number of trees you’ve planted with some more information about the project you’ve supported.



Gabriela Cabral Rezende, coordinator of the Black Lion Tamarin Conservation Program, from IPÊ (Institute for Ecological Research), is part of a shortlist of top conservationists that compete for the Whitley Awards 2020, considered the Green Oscar.

Each year, the Whitley Awards recognize the work of six conservationists with projects in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. For this year, 112 researchers competed. The list of six winners will come out in April.

Gabriela competes for conservation work with the black lion tamarin, the animal that is the symbol of São Paulo State. For nine years, she has continued the project that began 35 years ago, in Pontal do Paranapanema, with primatologist Claudio Padua, which is the first Brazilian to win the Whitley Award in 1999. The project grew, using tamarin protection strategies that have already produced results, such as the reforested corridor that connects the Protected Areas of the region, guaranteeing more area available for the circulation of the species. In addition, black lion tamarin conservation is supported by environmental education and sustainable income generation actions. As examples, agroecology and community nurseries both help to strengthen the population's relationship with the local fauna.

Currently, the researcher is engaged in studies for the management of the species and developing innovative experiments that can contribute to the collection of more accurate data on tamarins, such as the installation of nest boxes in areas of young forests where there are no trees holes to be used by the tamarin yet. Under the leadership of Gabriela, the project also brought the first monitoring collars with GPS to be used on small animals in Brazil.

“Me and the entire IPÊ team are very happy with the nomination. This is an integrated work, where everyone's action is fundamental, not only for research itself, but for environmental education, landscape restoration, and community involvement. It is this integration and collaboration that makes conservation work happen. The scientific research on the black lion tamarin can gain even more if we win this award, so it means a lot to us to be in this shortlist”, she comments.

Distance to range edge determines sensitivity to deforestation

It is generally assumed that deforestation affects a species consistently across space, however populations near their geographic range edge may exist at their niche limits and therefore be more sensitive to disturbance. We found that both within and across Atlantic Forest bird species, populations are more sensitive to deforestation when near their range edge. In fact, the negative effects of deforestation on bird occurrences switched to positive in the range core (>829 km), in line with Ellenberg’s rule. We show that the proportion of populations at their range core and edge varies across Brazil, suggesting deforestation effects on communities, and hence the most appropriate conservation action, also vary geographically.

Article with the participation of Alexandre Uezu, IPÊ researcher.




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 In honor of Don Melnick

Rare are the occasions, unfortunately, that we can say we have lost a human jewel when someone leaves. This is the sentiment we have with the passing of Don Melnick. Don was a friend of IPÊ since he met us in 1993, through his wife, Mary Pearl, a conservationist, partner and friend, today an institutional board member.

Professor at Columbia University, a renowned researcher in genetics and evolution, Don spent his life spreading knowledge linked to conservation and sustainability, bringing people together and opening doors so those good things could happen across the planet. He contributed significantly to IPÊ’s history, annually bringing students from his distinguished University for courses and internships at our headquarters or field projects. He produced documents, published in diverse media, and gave lectures that shifted the track of history.


DON MELNICK AMAZONConfidence was one of his qualities, which in fact were countless. He detected the qualities of people or institutions and fertilized the soil with knowledge and interconnections so that promising projects could germinate and flourish. Integrity was another quality that marked his personal and professional life. In addition, he inspired audacity and innovation, always with discretion, not calling attention to himself, but to the causes he defended. A true leader – one to be followed.

Happy are those who had the luck of crossing his paths. IPÊ had more than that.  The institution was privileged to have walked close to him for so many years, making dreams become reality. We will miss you, Don Melnick. The planet too! May you find another spot where you can propagate good things as you did in your short stay here with us. Our warm and sincere hug with great tenderness and gratitude. Please be assured, wherever you may be, that Mary and your kids, Memy and Seth, will always be welcomed at IPÊ with immense love. 


1 - Claudio Padua and Don Melnick in the first class of the IPÊ Professional Master in Conservation and Sustainability

2 - Don Melnick (first / left) visit the first office of the IPÊ in Manaus (Amazon) 



Planting started in March will form the new 500-hectare north corridor

One of IPE’s most significant results in its 27-year existence is the Atlantic Forest Corridor in the Pontal do Paranapanema. It is the largest ecologic corridor formed by restored forest in Brazil and it connects two protected areas: the Black Lion Tamarin Ecological Station and the Morro do Diabo State Park, helping to mitigate the negative effects of deforestation in the region. With a length of 20 km and containing more than 2.7 million trees, the corridor helps to protect not only the forests but also the endangered species of the region, such as the black lion tamarin and the jaguar. With this initiative, these species can now roam safely between the two large protected areas, increasing their chance to find food and reproductive partners.

The effectiveness of this large corridor will be augmented by another corridor that is being planted. This new corridor, called the “North Corridor” (called so because it is located near the northern tip of the Morro do Diabo State Park), will comprise 500 hectares and more than 1 million trees along 3 kilometers of Atlantic forest corridor.

The first trees of the North Corridor are being planted in the Legal Reserve area of Estrela Farm, a cattle ranch with an area of roughly 2,400 ha of which approximately 800 ha are legally designated to preserve the native vegetation. Part of this area of 800 ha that needs to be preserved by the owner is located between the Black Lion Tamarin Ecological Station (Agua Sumida fragment) and the Santa Maria I forest fragment, both of which are within a 13 km radius of the Morro do Diabo State Park. To choose which areas will be restored, IPE has created a map that points out the sites with the highest potential for increased habitat connectivity interspersed with the areas that need to be restored by law. The financial resources are provided by Atvos, a sugarcane mill company, via the Nascentes Program, a São Paulo State Program for the conservation of water springs, with international support from WeForest, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Sustainable Lush Fund and the Disney Conservation Fund. 

Capacity building and income generation

Besides the forest restoration, the North Corridor project has other important activities, such as capacity building in agroecology and environmental education for 300 farmers and students. Allied to this, there is income generation for the involved communities, as native species seedlings are produced in community nurseries and sold to the market.

“Due to an uncontrolled occupation, the Pontal do Paranapanema has suffered a significant reduction of its forest cover, with only 1.85% of the original forest remaining. The occupation dynamics has resulted in a regional landscape where several water bodies and forest fragments are being surrounded and encroached by rural settlements and other properties. This occupation, if it does not take into account the environment, risks losing everything that remains in the land, the forests and the water. That is why it is necessary to establish a sustainable rural development based on agroecology that encourages alternative income generation processes, as is the case of the community nurseries”, contends Laury Cullen Jr., coordinator of the project.

Community nurseries are social undertakings that aim to improve the social, economic and environmental development of the families living in the land reform settlements in the region. Such undertakings help to diversify the traditional agriculture by producing and selling seedlings of native and exotic species for reforestation, while IPE’s team simultaneously develops environmental education activities and capacity building of the farmers, teaching them the principles of associativism and agroecology.

Currently, there are 8 community nurseries in settlements of the region. Most of them are the result of cooperation among several families, but there are also private nurseries created by farmers that were trained in the free-of-charge courses given by IPE. In total, the nurseries can produce ca. 800 thousand seedlings per year.

“We always assume in our projects that the local community will be involved, be it through environmental education or through the development of alternative income generation. For example, when we began to plant the first corridor, we helped to implement the first community nurseries of the region. Today, the seedling producers are independent, and they sell their seedlings to other projects like ours”, explains Laury.

The North Corridor Project also aims to influence public policies by acting with the Nascentes Program of the São Paulo State government to preserve endangered species and restore fragmented landscapes in the Atlantic Forest biome.