In 1916 the Sociedad Ornitológica del Plata was founded by a small group of visionaries. Today it counts 3,000 members and works on over 1,000 species. Hernan Casañas, CEO of the organization, reflects on a century of conservation work.
A century ago, on July 28 1916, the Sociedad Ornitológica del Plata was born. Leading researchers and naturalists of the time, including the great writer and ornithologist William Hudson, founded the first environmental NGO of Latin America. Today, its name is Aves Argentinas, Latin America’s oldest environmental organisation and BirdLife Partner.
There are now more than 3,000 members in the country, who enjoy and protect the more than 1,000 species of birds that inhabit Argentinian territory, 120 of which are threatened with extinction. To reverse the decline, we are following two strategies: first, to connect Argentinians with nature; and secondly, to manage key protection sites for species’ survival. For example, we organise hundreds of birdwatching courses and promote Argentina’s School of Naturalists, which, since 1989, has trained hundreds of naturalist interpreters and field naturalists.
Back in 2007, we launched the Birding Club, an initiative that aims to motivate people to connect with birds and advocate for their protection. At the same time, our conservation programmes cover a wide range of issues including grasslands, urban reserves, seabirds, Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and preservation of endangered species; such actions have consolidated our
leadership in the conservation community. In addition, since 1917, we have published the scientific magazine El Hornero.
Lately we have been investing time and effort in creating new national parks, with encouraging results. For example, our involvement in partnership with other institutions to form the Patagonia National Park allowed us to safeguard this unique landscape. It is an international natural landmark where endangered wildlife, such as the Critically Endangered endemic Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi, and breathtaking landscape coexist. We also work to promote birdwatching tourism, an activity that increasingly generates more resources in our country, taking advantage of the outstanding diversity of species and environments.
To paraphrase the renowned naturalist Tito Narosky, Honorary President of our organisation, we want to continue flying high to ensure that “there will always be a bird flying across the sky and an Argentinian watching it.”