Capacity Development - Americas

Sunset over a steamy Amazon, Ecuador. Photo: Murray Cooper

BirdLife’s capacity development work involves a very cost-effective programme of training courses, visits, internships, an NGO “Health Check”, and a “Partners supporting Partners” system, whereby more developed organisations support developing ones.  For example, recognising that many birds which breed in Canada actually spend more of the year on their wintering grounds in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America, BirdLife co-Partner Bird Studies Canada launched the Latin American Training Program in 1995. This enables three Latin American biologists to spend an entire month at Long Point Bird Observatory, refining their field and teaching skills. Among others, participants have come from Cuba, Mexico, Jamaica, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Puerto Rico, Panama, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

BirdLife works for a bigger and stronger nature conservation network across the world. This is capacity building for conservation, as stronger organisations deliver better conservation results.

The BirdLife Partnership has made significant contributions to shaping international environmental conventions like the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Most countries in the Partnership are parties to these conventions, but many lack the institutional capacity to implement them at national level.

With funding from the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation, the BirdLife International Secretariat has provided training and internships to a number of BirdLife Partners, including two in the Americas, to work with their governments to transform such international commitments into effective protection of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs).


SAVE Brasil (BirdLife Partner in Brazil)

As part of the national implementation of the CBD, and in particular the Protected Areas Programme of Work, SAVE’s priority has been to support the Brazilian Ministry of Environment in the identification, designation and monitoring of priority sites for conservation. SAVE’s collaboration with a group of governmental agencies resulted in the official protection of more than 48,000 hectares of highest-priority Atlantic Forest habitat.

During the capacity development project, the Brazilian government established three new national parks and one private nature reserve. SAVE continues the process of identification and declaration of other protected areas, including the Cherry-throated Tanager Ecological Corridor, which, thanks to SAVE’s efforts, the Government has already recognised as a priority conservation area. 

SAVE is also advocating for the expansion of Descobrimento National Park together with the creation of Serra da Gandarela National Park and Altos da Mantiqueira National Park. They have supported the development of management plans for Descobrimento and Pau Brasil National Parks and are promoting the establishment of three private nature reserves in Boa Nova IBA, and registration of another seven. SAVE were involved in the revision of the criteria to register reserves at state level.

SAVE is currently pressing for the IBAs recently identified in the Brazilian Amazon (and published in the second volume of Brazil’s IBA directory) to be included in the Biodiversity Conservation Investments Database (BCID), which is under development by the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Environmental Funds (RedLAC). This initiative will use IBA data to fill key gaps related to investments in biodiversity conservation in the Andes-Amazon region.

Alongside government environmental institutions and NGOs, SAVE is part of an initiative that opposes amendments proposed to the Brazilian Forest Code that could undermine the protection of key conservation areas.


Aves y Conservación (BirdLife Partner in Ecuador)

Aves y Conservación (A&C) has actively supported the development of the regulatory framework for the creation of new protected areas in Ecuador. This process followed the recognition by the Government of Ecuador of municipal, community and private protected areas (PAs). A&C assisted local governments to include their IBAs in the country’s PA) system, and promoted the declaration of local PAs within three IBAs in North-western Pichincha province, with the active participation of five Site Support Groups (SSG). A&C has trained these groups to monitor and manage the new PAs. 

AyC works with national and local environmental authorities improve the conservation state and management of Llanganates National Park, the Llanganati wetlands complex (a recently declared Ramsar site within the National Park), the Salinas & Pacoa IBA, and other coastal wetlands.

Aves y Conservación is a key player in the National CBD Committee and Ramsar Committee. Future activities include the organisation of the Ramsar de la Sierra Group meeting in Ecuador, and the coordination of the “Second Symposium on Coastal and Marine Biodiversity of Ecuador”. The BirdLife Partner presents training workshops at Ramsar sites, contributes information on IBAs to CBD national reports, and supports national preparation for CBD meetings (Conferences of Partners), which A&C staff now attend.


Developing Capacity 

BirdLife projects aim to develop and strengthen existing or potential BirdLife Partners. Site-based conservation projects seek long-term solutions, often by developing sustainable institutions to manage resource use. This may be at village level, for example, enabling groups of forest users to regulate their use of resources and exclude uncontrolled use by outsiders. They may also include training to develop local competence in technical skills, biodiversity monitoring, agricultural practices, resource management, conservation or forestry.

New Partners

Before there were any national bird conservation NGOs in Brazil, the BirdLife Partnership established a Country Programme which has now blossomed into SAVE Brasil - an independent, self-sustaining organisation.