BirdLife: The Magazine Apr-Jun 2018 - Page 55

0 Counting shorebirds in the Iscuandé River Delta Photo Calidris 2 Children at a migratory bird festival Photo Calidris Wilson’s Phalarope Steganapus tricolor Photo Calidris annual migration in the department of Valle del Cauca, in the western side of the country. Soon, they were expanding their areas of work to the other departments. In late 2017, Calidris officially become BirdLife’s 121st and newest Partner. Calidris was already well-integrated into the BirdLife family before then, linking up with other American Partners to bolster our international campaign, Friends Across the Flyway, to protect migratory shorebirds along the Atlantic Americas Flyway. (Most fitting, as Calidris is the genus of typical sandpipers.) Although surprising given the circumstances, their fast progress has been essential to conserve the country’s natural riches. Colombia is arguably the most biodiverse country on Earth, with more bird, amphibian and butterfly species than any other country in the world. It holds an incredible variety of landscapes, from dense tropical forests in the Amazon to flooded savannahs in the Orinoco, humid cloud forests in the Andes and colourful coral reefs in the Caribbean coast. The range of habitats also means Colombia is home to the highest total number of bird species in the world with a whopping 1,877 species recorded, 87 of which are endemic and 126 globally threatened. Percentage-wise, the state of Colombia’s birds is better than average (61st in the world), with the restrictions on development imposed by the conflict greatly slowing the rate of deforestation possible. As the country finds itself in a period of transition, the environmental threats are shifting and so are the actors. While the peace deal has brought many opportunities for conservation, it has also brought some uncertainties. Before the peace deal, the apr-jun 2018 • birdlife P A R T N E R F A C T S H E E T CALIDRIS Year formed: 1993 Number of employees: 15 Location of HQ: Cali C O U N T R Y F A C T F I L E Rarest bird: The Antioquia Brush-finch Atlapetes blancae is the rarest with a population size ranging from 1-49 individuals Main habitats: Tropical rainforest, flooded savannah, mangroves, cloud forest, coastal lowlands Number of IBAs: 124 Number of people in the country: Nearly 50 million Surprising fact about Colombia: Around 10% of the world’s species live there, including over 1,877 species of birds – that’s more than any other country in the world and more than in Europe and North America combined government was not in charge of managing natural resources in many of the conflict areas. Instead, armed groups took on the regulation of social and economic activities. But this never stopped Calidris from working with local communities, keeping them empowered and involved in conservation. While rebels are being replaced by illegal loggers and miners today, the premise is the same: people are driven by a need for resources and income, just like they were before, so offering alternatives has become even more valuable today than a decade ago. While the government is working on the reintegration of combatants, land restitution and developing the rural areas that had been left behind, environmental impact assessments have been left aside, which is why the work of organisations like Calidris has become even more crucial. Our Colombian Partner has always provided technical advice to local communities and biodiversity data to the authorities. This is how they are able to strengthen the case for the continued safeguard of their protected areas. And their work is not only beneficial for nature – local communities are involved in the decisions and gain jobs and access to natural resources from the process. The unsustainable harvest of timber, which in some cases was controlled by rebels during the years of the war, skyrocketed as soon as the peace agreement was signed. Studies suggest that deforestation in Colombia rose by 40% in 2016. After all, who were the owners and keepers of the land now? Without any governance or law enforcement, rivers, forests and mangroves started getting destroyed as they belonged to no one. 55