Jaguar occurrence highlights the contribution of the HCV approach to conservation of near threatened species.

In recent years, three records of jaguars have been obtained in High Conservation Value (HCV) areas during environmental monitoring exercises carried out by Casa da Floresta, an HCV Network Supporter. Monitoring was carried out in several farms: Suzano S.A. (Mato Grosso do Sul State), Veracel Celulose (Bahia State) and Klabin (Paraná State).

HCVs in these areas were identified from 2008 to 2011, and have been monitored since. Jaguar presence was registered in areas immersed in mosaics of native forests with matrix of FSC®-certified Eucalyptus and Pine plantations, exotic species to Brazil. Records gathered between 2013 and 2017 are highly relevant because they were obtained from areas where jaguar occurrence was unknown and unexpected. Jaguar presence highlights the importance of good forest management and the role of the HCV approach in contributing to the conservation of near threatened species.  

The jaguar (Panthera onca) is the third biggest wildcat in the world and the largest top predator in the Americas. The species has a key role in controlling food chain stability and other ecological processes in its natural habitat, which is currently only 45% of its original area. In many localities where the jaguar used to be found, remaining habitats are highly degraded and fragmented, such as the Atlantic Forest biome in South America. Due to historic deforestation, this biome was reduced to 11% of its original extension, now requiring great conservation efforts.

Long-term survival of jaguars in an area depends on specific environmental attributes such as the amount of well-conserved habitats and the availability and abundance of food resources. Jaguars prey mostly on vertebrates, including medium to large mammals, such as wild pigs, capybaras and deer. In other words, jaguars are present only in high-quality environments. Recently, some studies defined 8 Jaguar Conservation Units (JCU) in the Atlantic Forest domain altogether with other areas considered highly suitable for jaguar survival. There is an estimate of less than 250 resident jaguars in those JCUs.

Despite the critical scenario, Casa da Floresta's team of highly-trained professionals have worked passionately on environmental monitoring, fauna and flora assessments, GIS, ecological restoration, environmental licensing, socio-environmental education, support for forest certification among other types of studies, which have contributed to ecology in general and wildlife conservation in this case. Casa da Floresta is a member of FSC International and a Supporter of the HCV Network.