União - Expanding Protection for GLTs!

In 2007, Brazil’s Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado (AMLD; “Golden Lion Tamarin Association”), with financial support from international NGO partners Saving Species and Save the Golden Lion Tamarin in the USA and the National Committee of the IUCN in the Netherlands, purchased 140 hectares (346 acres) of cattle pasture isolating União Biological Reserve, and its 164 GLTs, from forests to the west. União Reserve is one of only 13 small forest fragments containing GLTs—all located in a single watershed just 70km (43 miles) from the city of Rio de Janeiro. None of those forest fragments is large enough to sustain a viable GLT population. Thus, the need to reconnect them with planted forest corridors.

AMLD reforested the cattle pasture using native tree seedlings. As you can see in these satellite photos borrowed from Google Earth, nine years later the planted corridor is as tall as native forest. We documented use of the corridor by GLTs, mountain lions, and smaller carnivores—a good thing for ecological balance in the Reserve.

There is more good news. União Biological Reserve was created in 1998 as a result of pressure by AMLD and partner institutions. Since the Reserve’s creation, AMLD has lobbied to increase its size. In February 2017, AMLD’s Executive Secretary met in Brasilia with the President of ICMBio (Brazil’s environmental agency) and other officials concerning the opportunity to increase the size of União. On 5 June 2017, the President of Brazil signed a bill increasing União Reserve from 2,584 hectares to 7,756 hectares, including the 140 hectares purchased and reforested by AMLD—a huge step forward for GLT conservation. União Reserve now contains 408 GLTs and is the largest fragment of protected forest in the species’ range.

If Golden Lion Tamarins are to have a future in their Atlantic Forest home, it will be because partner organizations recognize that real conservation results require science-based plans and persistent long-term coordinated efforts of many partners. AMLD is implementing a science-based strategic plan designed to achieve a minimum viable population of golden lion tamarins by 2025, and to keep them safe from extinction thereafter. We have the knowhow and a talented and committed Brazilian team on the ground. We welcome your support.


Save the Golden Lion Tamarin, Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado, and Saving Species wish to thank the following whose support made the purchase of the corridor possible:

  • the Arnow Family,
  • Cassidy Horn, Cindy Horn, and the Environmental Media Association,
  • the Firedoll Foundation,
  • Robert O. and Reba B. Founier,
  • the IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands’ Land Purchase Programme, sponsored by the Netherlands Postcode Lottery.