BirdLife: The Magazine Apr-Jun 2018 - Page 29

Hooded Grebe Photo Juan María Raggio Nat io nal t r easur e Creating a safer environment for some of our most threatened birds This isn’t the first time Aves Argentinas has secured National Park status for a habitat in danger. In 2013, their passionate lobbying convinced the Argentinian government to set up the Patagonia National Park to protect breeding colonies of Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi, a Critically Endangered waterbird with less than 500 adult pairs remaining. However, proposals for two massive hydroelectric dams on the Santa Cruz River now loom over the species once again, and Aves Argentinas’ tireless campaigning continues. returned life to the warrior, transforming him into a beautiful, slender bird adorned with pink feathers. From that moment on, flamingos have inhabited the salina. Enshrining the lake’s colloquial name in the national park title speaks volumes. Community engagement – participatory planning, empowering local stakeholders and establishing a network of ‘local conservation guardians’ – has been integral to Aves Argentinas’ strategy from the outset. Moreover, bolstering the local economy through nature-based tourism is fundamental to the project’s success. Having identified Mar Chiquita as a priority area in Argentina’s 2016 National Sustainable Tourism Strategic Plan, the Ministry for Tourism is delighted. “A vibrant ecotourism circuit at Ansenuza,” says Srur, “will lengthen the tourist season and generate sustainable livelihoods over a wider area. Local communities will become strongly committed to Ansenuza’s long-term conservation.” It is this inspiring future that British Birdwatching Fair funds will help create. But it’s not just about the money. “Birdfair recognition has already been a major boost for building domestic political awareness about why Mar Chiquita/Ansenuza needs to be protected,” says Srur. Isadora Angarita-Martínez (Biodiversity apr-jun 2018 • birdlife 4 Collared Plover Charadrius collaris Photo Pablo Rodríguez Merkel Conservation Manager, BirdLife International) goes further, offering that the Birdfair brand “will help gain birding-industry support, which is key to making Ansenuza a birding paradise”. Chaco Earthcreeper Tarphonomus certhioides Photo Pablo Rodríguez Merkel Competition to be the project supported by the annual Birdfair is intense. Birdfair decision- makers have to take into account how the project will strengthen the wider BirdLife Partnership. Angarita-Martínez welcomes Aves Argentinas’s intention to help build capacity in policy development among BirdLife’s Americas Regional partnership. And she praises how the organisation is “integrating the project across BirdLife programmes: from IBAs in Danger, through Flyways to the Southern Cone Grassland Alliance”. A project to convert an IBA in Danger into a protected national park. An initiative to develop sustainable livelihoods through ecotourism. A design that will benefit BirdLife Partners across an entire continent. A worthy recipient of 2018 Birdfair support indeed. The goddess Ansenuza may still weep, but her tears are no longer those of sadness – rather those of joy. 0 29