WLT are working with Fundacion Biodiversa Colombia to save 260ha of lowland forest and wetlands.
They need to raise £295,000 to ensure these habitats are safe. The area has already suffered from extreme deforestation and degradation – a whopping 90% of the original forests have been lost, so it’s vital to protect the remaining 10%.
Many endangered species live there, from the American Manatee and Magdalena River Turtle to the Lowland Tapir and Jaguar. There are a lot of monkeys there – the White-footed Tamarin, the Brown Spider Monkey and the Varied White-fronted Capuchin.
The World Land Trust works closely with local conservation organisations and it speaks very well of FBC’s track record of conservation.
Back in 1971 on 2 February, the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar which sits on the shores of the Caspian Sea
Today, the 2nd February is a really important day for people and wildlife, because it’s a chance to highlight how important wetlands are to us all. They are where land meets sea. The 2nd February is World Wetlands Day.
This year, the theme is “Wetlands and Biodiversity”, is an opportunity to highlight the importance of wetland biodiversity conservation.
Where are wetlands?
Wetlands cover areas such as shores, estuaries, mudflats, floodplains, coastal marshes, local ponds, the bog and pond in your garden, mangrove swamps, seagrass beds, and rivers. They cover a very small of the earth’s surface – and yet they are one of the most important habitats on our planet.
"If rainforests are the lungs of the planet, then wetlands are the lifeblood. As much as we need air to breathe, we need water to live. The conservation of our wetlands is essential to all life on earth.” WWT
Why wetlands matter to people:
They provide us with drinking water
They store a third of the world’s carbon emissions
They buffer us from floods and droughts
They are important for our health and wellbeing
Why do wetlands matter to wildlife?
40% of all plant and animal species live or breed here.
Sundarbans National Park (India) is formed of tidal rivers, creeks and canals and supports species such as the single largest population of tiger, and aquatic mammals such as the Irrawaddy and Ganges River dolphins, all under threat.
So what’s happening to wetlands in our changing world?
A recent global IPBES assessment identified wetlands as the most threatened ecosystem. This impacts 40% of the world’s plant and animal species that live or breed in wetlands.
Our wetlands are threatened by:
Beavering away to address these problems are organisations such as the World Heritage Centre. An example of its work is the Okavango Delta which has incredible biodiversity but is threatened thanks to development pressure. It’s home to indigenous peoples and wildlife such as the cheetah, white rhinos, black rhinos, lion and the African wild dog. In 2019, the State Parties of Namibia, Botswana and Angola agreed a roadmap to explore the boundary extension of the World Heritage Site here to protect the river basin and the unique wetland system.
In the UK, there’s the WWT –Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust but of course its work extends well beyond the UK.
WWT say that:
Between 1970 and 2014, populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptile species declined by a dreadful 60%
In the last 400 years, England has lost 90% of her wetlands
30% of known fish species, many at risk amphibians and reptiles, migratory and resident water birds,, and thousands of plant species life here.
However, the WWT is working hard to create, protect and restore – it believes we can reverse the decline and bring wetlands back to life. Its conservation projects strengthen the link between wetlands, wildlife and people, both in the UK and further afield. Find out more about their plans for 2020
So what can we all do to help wetland conservation?
WWT can create new wetlands in a few months and years – so your support can really make a difference quickly. But there’s something we can all do to help and you’ll find more links and further resources further down.
Create a pond in your garden, local area or school
Visit a wetland close to you and spend time there. Use your senses while you visit. Listen to the sounds you can hear; look at the sights, smell the scents.
Support the conservation work of your local wetlands charity
Volunteer for local wetland charities
Donate to wetland charities – look out for their appeals
World Wetland Network – a collection of NGOs and Civil Society Groups all working for wetland conservation
Wetland Link International – a support network for wetland education centres which deliver engagement activities on site. The WWT in the UK lead it; it has 350 members over 6 continents!
RAMSAR – The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
World Wetlands Day – held every year on 2 February to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands and how we can all help
In the run up to World Oceans Day (8th June every year), Environment Secretary Michael Gove has created 41 new Marine Conservation Zones.
This represents the most significant expansion of England’s Blue Belt of Protected Areas to date.
Stretching from Northumberland (where eider ducks live) to the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall (basking sharks, seabirds and fish) , the action Gove has taken safeguards 12,000 square kilometres of marine habitat. A substantial number of additional zones were created in waters away from the coast – some in the deep sea – thus giving protection to habitats and species such as coral gardens, fan mussel and sea pens.
Vulnerable marine wildlife will now have an opportunity to recover. And if there are richer habitats for marine life, so there life will be better for those whose livelihoods depend on a healthy coastline and sea.
WWF has discovered that in marine protected areas, fish breed more readily and populations recover. In the Apo Island (Philippines), communities depend heavily on fish. After a marine protected area was created, catch per unit increased 50%. Fish populations tripled. Fisherman were able to save fuel and spend less time at sea.
The UK now has over 350 Marine Protected Areas, covering 220,000 square kilometres – that’s twice the size of England.
The areas protected include wildlife such as worms, seahorse and oyster. Sand, tidal mud, rocky reefs and gravel will be protected. Each as a role to play in the balance of nature.
The evidence about the importance of these new sites was gathered by volunteer divers who dive for Seasearch, a programme co-ordinated by the Marine Conservation Society. Divers spent hours diving very diverse seabed habitats to record the marine plants and animals living in our inshore seas. There were extensive consultations with local fishermen too, and members of the public.
This citizen science enabled groups such as the Marine Conservation Society to make a case for protecting many of these sites, and they will now be involved in developing management and monitoring plans for these newly protected areas.
After all, protection must be active if it is to mean anything. It’s no good allocating a protected status to an area if action isn’t taken to ensure that the area IS protected.
The UK government has called for 30% of the world’s oceans to be protected by 2030. It has co-chaired the creation of the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance with Vanuatu.
Later this year, the government will publish an international strategy setting out more action to conserve the ocean and use it in a sustainable way.
Meantime, its next step closer to home is to stop damaging activities in the Marine Protected Zones which affect wildlife. Beam trawling, dredging for scallops and langoustines are among these – and surely there must be some action to stop some leisure activities, too.
But this is a great start, and the fact that citizen scientists (e.g. willing volunteers) and world-class marine scientists have worked together to contribute towards such an outcome is heart-warming.
The fifth largest salt lake in the world, Mar Chiquita is South America’s second largest water body. And it’s home to most of the world’s Chilean flamingo (about 318,000 of them, they are Nearly Threatened) and nearly half of its Andean Flamingo (18,000 in winter (Vulnerable) and Puna Flamingo as well (and they’re Near Threatened).
In addition, there are tens of thousands of American Golden Plover, White-rumped and Lesser Yellowlegs who migrate here.
Oh, and don’t forget the 600,000 Wilson's Phalaropes – about a third of the world’s population.
So let’s move away from the Little Sea (as Mar Chiquita means) to grasslands. These are home to the Greater Rhea, Bearded Tachuri, a Maned Wolf and Sickle-winged Nightjar (Near Threatened). The swampy areas have Dot-winged Crake, and Dinelli's Doradito, while Crowned Solitary Eagles Buteogallus coronatus fly over Chaco forest.
Unfortunately dear reader, that is not the case. It’s in danger. Why? Well, the human race is at it again.
Water extracted from the lake at an unsustainable lake
The lake is polluted, thanks to local industry
Above average deforestation rate
And action is needed urgently. Which is where the supporters of Birdfair in the UK come in and the human race is working to put things right.
Aves Argentinas is a partner of BirdLife International. It has undertaken bird surveys, raised awareness, improved management of the area and clarified land ownership at Mar Chiquita for years.
Then came its light bulb moment – a plan to create what should become Argentina’s largest national park.
Creating a national park to keep the area safe
The plan has been developed with provincial and national authorities. Back in 2017, a concordat was signed by Argentina’s environment minister, National Parks Administration and the governor of the Córdoba province. And the Ansenuza National Park will protect up to 800,000 hectares which will be managed at the national level.
Crucial to the plan is the involvement and engagement (how I hate that word but I can never think of another) of the local community.
Planning involving them, empowering local stake holders and establishing a network of local conservation guardians has been a key part of Aves Argentina’s strategy from the start.
And there’s more – bolstering the local economy through nature-based tourism is essential to the project’s success. So the Ministry of Tourism is very pleased indeed. Ecotourism will lengthen the tourist seasons and help provide sustainable livelihoods over a wider area. That should also help local communities commit to the long term conservation of the area.
And the lake’s colloquial name in the national park title says a great deal.
The British Birdwatching Fair helps in two key ways:
An international event like this is vital in building political awareness back in Argentina as to why this area needs to be protected. It will help build support from the bird world and show that the Ansenuza really is a birding paradise.
As a bird lover, I want to go and see birds in a beautiful, natural environment. I don’t want to go to see a polluted lake where a lot of the water has been sucked out and drive through an area where local forests have been destroyed to get there.
Raising funds to support the project
In 2017, the theme was ‘Saving paradise in the Pacific’. The aim was to remove invasive predators from the French Polynesian island of Rapa Iti. Last year, Birdfair raised a jaw-dropping £333,000 was raised towards the work.
The 2018 project is an ambitious one. A project to create and protect a national park and all its wildlife, whilst helping locals through eco-tourism. And surely a model for other conservation organisations to look at?
BirdLife International - BirdLife International is a global partnership of conservation organisations (NGOs) that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. 121 BirdLife Partners worldwide.
This is protection a whopping 664,484 acres of Dry Chaco forest in Bolivia!
The project was given community support, and on the ground, it's Natura Bolivia who run it.
World Land Trust says the plains of Gran Chaco extend from the base of hte Andes across Northern Argentina, western Paraguay and south east Bolivia.
It is ihome to the largest Dry Forest in South America, and has swamps, savannahs, marshes, salt flats and scrubelands.
It supports about 500 species of birds, 150 species of mammals, 120 species of reptiles and 100 species of amphibians, so it's a very important area for wildlife. Threats to the area are deforestation, hunting and unsustainable cattle farming.
Natura is working with locals in the area to develop a conservation model which works for both wildlife and people in the area. For instance, the govenrment has given support for conservation incentives.
This is very exciting, especially the work to develop conservation models which work for people and wildlife and it will be interesting to see how the project develops.
Meantime, it's great to think that over 664,000 acres are being protected.