Conserva Aves: Collaborating to address the Climate and Nature Crises from Mexico to Chile
Considered the most biodiverse region in the world, the Tropical Andes covers less than 1% of the world’s land surface, yet it is home to nearly one-sixth of all plant species on the planet, and more amphibian, bird, and mammal species than any other equivalent area.
BirdLife International, and its American partners, National Audubon Society and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) as well as RedLAC, a network of 27 environmental funds in Latin America and the Caribbean, have partnered in an innovative collaboration that aims to close the gap in the protection of key biodiversity areas. Conserva Aves (Conserve Birds) will catalyze the establishment of more than 80 new protected areas covering 2 million hectares (4.9 million acres) and improve management of an additional 2 million hectares. Stretching from Mexico to Chile, the initiative targets sites where priority areas for migratory birds overlap with Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and climate strongholds.
Recent studies indicate that only about 40 percent of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) enjoy some form of protection, and that protected areas adequately cover the ranges of only nine percent of migratory bird species.
A particular focus is in the tropical Andes countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Perú. Critical for threatened and migratory bird species these forests and grasslands contain some of the highest biodiversity anywhere on Earth and provide winter homes for many beloved birds that spend the summer in North America, like warblers, tanagers, grosbeaks, and sandpipers. Conserva Aves will also develop nature-sensitive livelihood opportunities for the people living in and adjacent to these areas.
Large-scale habitat conversion and degradation along with alarming biodiversity loss are advancing rapidly throughout Latin America. Protected areas as part of land and seascape approaches are a proven strategy for safeguarding biodiversity, mitigating climate change, improving water security, and supporting community adaptation to climate change through nature-based solutions. Conserva Aves will contribute to national commitments under the biodiversity and climate conventions.
Conserva Aves brings a unique perspective to the conservation of endemic and threatened biodiversity by integrating priorities for migratory birds – many of which are in serious decline. By focusing on the conservation of migratory birds, Conserva Aves partners increase habitat connectivity, benefitting a range of other species and galvanize support from a diverse array of international actors by focusing on North American breeding bird species dependent on the Tropical Andes region for the larger part of their life cycles.
National implementation of Conserva Aves will be carried out by a consortium of effective conservation organizations, environmental trust funds in each country part of the Network of Latin American and Caribbean Environmental Funds (RedLAC) and BirdLife national partners Asociación Armonia (Bolivia), Aves y Conservación (Ecuador), Asociación Calidris (Colombia), ECOAN (Perú), as well as the Jocotoco Foundation (Ecuador) and ProAves (Colombia).
Potential local partners will be identified via calls for proposals in each priority country. Committees of national experts will evaluate proposals for protected-area declaration, management, and sustainability, and select local partners to receive 1:1 matching funding as well as training, technical support, and mentorship throughout the duration of the projects. We are currently in the structuring phase and hope to make initial calls for proposals by May 2022.
“Just over a month ago, at the UN climate summit, the world heard the urgent message to phase out unsustainable practices and speed up the protection of Neotropical areas to diminish the perils of climate change. Conserva Aves is our response. This partnership gathers the power of Latin American organizations to focus on transformational conservation that benefits people and biodiversity. It’s our answer to what birds so beautifully and wisely have been telling us we must do for decades”.
Aurelio Ramos, Senior Vice President for International Alliances, Audubon
Conserva Aves Partners
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