EDMONTON - June 11, 2004

The Alberta Research Council (ARC), under contract to the Canadian International Development Association (CIDA), has partnered with Paraguay's Fundacion Moises Bertoni on a three-year, $1.1 million project to apply expertise in land use planning to a variety of issues in a sensitive region of Paraguay.

ARC is working with the Fundacion to develop a land management process and plan to improve ecological, social and economic capacity in the region of Cuenca Alta del Rio Jejui.

"Their issues are similar to those we deal with in Alberta," says ARC project manager, Marian Weber. "Multiple interests compete on a single land-base, impacting the environment and competing interests on a number of levels. ARC brings a multidisciplinary approach to bear in integrating diverse activities, and developing decision-making tools that promote sustainability."

ARC's Sustainable Ecosystems business unit team includes a sociologist, agronomist, agro-forestry specialist, information systems specialist and a community planner. The project goal is to promote participatory models of land governance that support social, economic and ecological sustainability in Paraguay. The group will also train local people in the process, and emphasize continual renewal of the management planning process.

Paraguay's Cuenca Alta del Rio Jejui is a watershed region that includes the protected Reserva Naturel del Bosque Mbaracayú. The entire watershed region was designated a UNESCO Man and Biosphere World Heritage Site in 2000. The Fundacion administers the reserve and is responsible for advancing a sustainable development program in the region.

This region features some of the richest biodiversity in Paraguay, and is home to scarce species such as jaguars, tapirs, and great macaws. It is also one of the most deprived in economic development. Current land use practices are leading to loss of habitat, soil degradation, and a shortage of land available to support the region's growing population, which includes indigenous Ache and Guarani peoples, campesino settlers, and large land (estancia) owners.

A Canadian leader in innovation, Alberta Research Council (ARC) provides solutions globally to the energy, life sciences, agriculture, environment, forestry and manufacturing sectors. The Sustainable Ecosystems business unit provides practical, science-based information and advice to policy makers and resource users on all aspects of resource management and sustainable development. The unit's employees are leaders in designing research and developing indicators, models and tools for conducting cumulative impact assessments and suggesting adaptive management processes for sustainable ecosystems.

CIDA supports sustainable development in developing countries to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world.


For information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Valerie Golka
Communications Advisor
Alberta Research Council Inc.
Tel: (780) 632-8409

Marian Weber
Project Manager
Sustainable Ecosystems
Alberta Research Council Inc.
Tel: (780) 450-5193