24 Sep 2015

Cooking Up Conservation Success: Audubon’s Stewardship Network

Stewards monitoring the Chiricahua Mountains IBA, Arizona (Jennie MacFarland, Tucson Audubon Society)
By Constance Sanchez

National Audubon Society (BirdLife in USA) released a new Conservation Stewardship Manual to help inspire and share lessons with local stewardship groups and Partners on how to protect and conserve Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas. Cooking Up Conservation Success: Recipes across the U.S. Important Bird Areas Network highlights 25 projects across the United States of America, and the latest on the Audubon stewardship network. The manual outlines and illustrates the basic conservation activities that could be implemented by stewards, encompassing monitoring, restoration, education and outreach, advocacy and policy, conservation planning, land protection, and climate communications and action. 

Since the U.S.A. program was initiated in 1995, Audubon and partners have identified over 2,600 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas across all fifty states, encompassing over 380 million acres of critical habitat for threatened birds, birds with small ranges, birds requiring unique habitat types, and birds that are highly concentrated in particular areas. These sites join a network of over 12,000 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas scientifically identified worldwide, through the coordination of BirdLife International. Collectively, these sites serve as the roadmap for protecting birds throughout their life cycle, in breeding, wintering, and in migration.

As Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas consist of a mix of private and public lands, varied strategies are called upon to conserve these sites. Science is critical to the identification of these sites; however, the true power of the program is in the engagement of people and the collaboration across partnerships. Over 230 stewardship groups and hundreds of volunteers are actively engaged in conservation at over 400 Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, and these numbers continue to grow.

Stewardship groups have been involved in inventory and monitoring of birds and habitats, restoration and enhancement, conservation planning, education and outreach, policy and advocacy efforts, fundraising activities, and more. As we consider the multitude of pressures these birds and habitats face and Audubon’s 2014 Birds and Climate report, forecasting that half of our bird species may be in trouble as a result of climate change, there is an intensified need for awareness and action. With local attention focused on these critical sites across this network, we can achieve global impact.

With this sampling of conservation recipes, we highlight the innovation, dedication and achievements of the many volunteers, Audubon staff and partners championing the network of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas. We hope this compilation will guide and inspire other groups and individuals to develop their own recipes for success, considering the unique mix of ingredients involved in caring for the birds and their critical places.

Sign up to download a free copy and keep up with the latest on the IBA stewardship network.