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Who we are

IESB- The Institute for Social and Environmental Studies in Southern Bahia is a non-profit and non-governmental organization, that conducts research, field projects, and other activities aimed at conserving the Atlantic Coastal Forest. It was founded in 1994 by a group of researchers, educators, and students involved with socio-environmental issues in the southern region of the State of Bahia..

Our mission

To conserve biodiversity, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and the improvement of living conditions for rural communities located in the Atlantic Forest.

What we do

IESB main lines of action are: conducting ecological studies of important plant and animal species; strengthening rural associations and developing sustainable agricultural practices; providing incentives for the creation and management of private reserves; monitoring of forest cover; delivering environmental education in rural schools; and promoting public policies that favor local conservation and development processes.

Where we work

1-Una Biological Reserve

The Biological Reserve of Una is one of the best preserved areas of Southern Bahia. The reserve’s 11.400 hectares of forest harbor several threatened animal species, such as the golden-headed lion tamarin, the yellow-breasted capuchin monkey, and the maned three-toed sloth. The forest remnants surrounding the reserve, which are linked to it through cacao plantations and other forest patches, play an important role in the conservation of this area by forming habitat corridors.

2 - Una Ecopark (Ecoparque de Una)

The Una Ecopark is a Private Natural Heritage Reserve (Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural - RPPN) that belongs to IESB. It is located near the city of Una, 45 km South of the city of Ilheus. It offers visitors the opportunity to experience direct contact with nature in an interactive and dynamic way, sensitizing them to the need to conserve natural resources. IESB owns three other reserves: Nova Angélica Reserve, in Una; Capitão Reserve, in Itacaré; and Serra das Lontras Reserve, in Arataca. Together, IESB’s reserves protect 2.100 hectares of forest.

3 - Conduru Ridge State Park

The Conduru Ridge State Park protects forest that is among the world’s very richest in botanic diversity in the world, with over 450 tree species in a single hectare. Despite its conservation importance, the park suffers from timber extraction and hunting.

4- Serra das Lontras Mountain Complex

Lontras Ridge is of great biological importance, since it shelters one of the last remnants of montane Atlantic Forest. This region contains several endemic bird species, many recently discovered, and primate species, such as the yellow-breasted capuchin monkey and the golden-headed lion tamarin.

How we work

Since its founding, IESB has been working at the interface between conservation and development, emphasizing the inclusion of local people and communities in the search for shared solutions. Our initiatives are always directed towards reinforcing participatory and cooperative processes, helping build local competence and stimulating sustainable development.

Actions, Projects and Partners

In 1994, research and extension projects were initiated with the goal of tackling ecological feasibility maintenance problems which were plaguing the Una Biological Reserve, which until then, was considered to be the key-area in order to preserve regional biodiversity. From the diagnosis results, important fragments were identified outside of the conservation unit, although contained within the unit, clearly showing the need to involve rural communities in conservation efforts. Thus, IESB began to establish partnerships with rural producers, with action aimed at environmental education and dissemination of sustainable agricultural systems, including the recovery of degraded areas.

IESB also initiated, in 1996, a public policy follow-up program, in the areas of Agrarian Reform, Tourism and Infra-Structure, along with support from the Ford Foundation and USAID. This program began the follow-up of the paving of Highway BA –001 (Ilhéus-Itacaré section), which cut through important sections of forest in the North of Una. As a way to mitigate the impact caused by the highway, the creation of the Serra do Conduru State Park was proposed, in the year of 1997, which presently has 9,000 ha of area preserved. At the same time, IESB paid close attention to the unfolding of agrarian matters, discussing with all segments involved, and thereby avoiding new settlements in forested areas in the Rebio-Una region, as well as a new settlement in the Conduru Park area, through negotiations, the settlers agreed to being transferred to an area less forested and with better infra-structure for agricultural development.

In 1998, IESB had its proposal approved by Probio/MMA, in order to develop fauna and flora research in the Southern region of Bahia, while implementing the Biodiversity Corridor in the Costa do Descobrimento. In order to make this research more effective, an extensive partnership was created involving universities (Unicamp, UFMG and UESC), governmental departments (DDF and CRA), research centers (CABS, NYBG, UCSB), multilateral co-operation agencies (DECRG/World Bank) and non-governmental organizations (CI Brasil and SOS Mata Atlântica).

In the year of 2000, IESB began a partnership with BirdLife International in order to come up with studies for the region of Serras das Lontras and Javí, areas which are also found along the buffer zone of the Una Biological Reserve, where during the last decade, new species of birds were recorded. Nowadays, IESB participates of an effort to create a public protected area in this region.

Since 2001 IESB has coordinated the Biosphere Reserve State Committee, as part of the Man and Biosphere Program/UNESCO. The Committee is formed by representatives from the private, scientific and governmental sectors from16 Bahian institutions, and representatives from three Regional Sub-Committees formed by twelve local NGOs and GOs representatives. The Committee is responsible to implement the Biosphere Reserve in Bahia State and has been officially recognized by the Environmental Ministry as the institution responsible to administrate the Atlantic Forest Corridor Project as part of the Tropical Forest Preservation Pilot Program supported by the G7.

Since 2002, IESB has been working with the Conservancy to conserve, restore and manage preserves in Southern Bahia coastal ecoregion. With the goal of protecting and restoring the spectacular Atlantic Forest of Southern Bahia, the Conservancy raised and facilitated a donation given by 3M Foundation to purchase 2 farms in key biodiversity sites in the region. These farms became private reserves which has a permanent protection status, and is owned and managed by IESB, receiving financial assistance and support from TNC until today.

IESB’s activities have expanded but have always maintained focused on the conservation of forest ecosystems and the landscape, in general. Always intervening in an encompassing fashion, IESB constantly proposes public policies, develops environmental analysis methodologies and tools, fosters the implementation of economic alternatives for exploiting renewable natural resources and aids in building the capacity of local people, through partnerships with rural communities, research institutions, NGOs, private sector, universities and government agencies.

While developing its activities, IESB has received support from various institutions, such as: The Nature Conservancy, BirdLife International, Europe Union, USAID, Ford Foundation, Conservation International, WWF, Program for the Protection and Promotion of Sustainable Use of Brazilian Biodiversity (PROBIO-MMA), Brazilian Biodiversity Fund (FUNBIO), Durrel Wildlife Preservation Trust, Santa Cruz State University (UESC), Environmental Resource Center (CRA), Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), Forest Development Department (DDF), Executive Commission of the Plano da Lavoura Cacaueira (CEPLAC), Marsterfoods USA, Citigroup Foundation, O Boticário Foundation for the Protection of Nature (FBPN), BirdLife International, Ministry of the Environment (MMA), International Education Institute of Brazil (IEB), Conservation Strategy Fund (CSF), Gambá - Environmentalist Group of Bahia and the SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation.

IESB’s administration is composed of the General Assembly, Deliberative Council, Executive Secretary, Technical Coordination, Administrative Management and Financial Management. Presently, it is composed of a team of 45 members, with 18 graduate-level professionals, including seven master and two doctorate degrees. These are professionals from diverse fields such as agronomy, forest engineering, biology, economy, law, geography and sociology.

All of IESB’s activities are developed in an integrated and interdisciplinary way comprising the following Areas:

Sustainable Communities

Partnerships with rural producers located around the Una Biological Reserve have fostered the organic production of agroforest systems and the recovery of degraded areas;

Geoprocessing and Environmental Monitoring

Develops monitoring of land occupation and use through remote sensing and geographical information systems (SIG);

Protected Areas and Ecotourism

Supports the dissemination, creation and management of Private Reserves (RPPN), both the management and operation of display projects concerning ecotourism which takes in the RPPN Una Ecopark, besides all the participative management in the Atlantic Forest Central Corridor;

Environmental Education and Communication

Capacity building for professors and dissemination of environmental information around the Una Biological Reserve and APA Itacaré – Serra Grande; Editing and publication of the APA Journal, in order to disseminate environmental information which is distributed in the APA Itacaré - Serra Grande Region and the elaboration of promotional material concerning conservation and sustainable development;

Conservation Public Policies

Support in order to implement financial compensation systems for conservation in the State of Bahia; Participation in the creation and implementation of Municipal Environmental Councils of Una and Ilhéus; Analysis of public policies with a potential impact on the Mata Atlântica Forest, concerning Agrarian Reform, Tourism and Rural Credit.


Development of studies concerning the fauna and flora of the Mata Atlântica Forest in the South of Bahia, analyzing the effects of fragmentation in the communities’ structures.




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