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Tumbesian Region Critical

Conservation effort launched to protect the threatened biodiversity of northern Peru's ?forgotten? forests

Quito, Ecuador, 13 March 2006 - BirdLife International has today warned that unless the international conservation community moves quickly, species will continue to become extinct in the "forgotten" forests of the Tumbesian region of northern Peru.

In flower, these deciduous dry forests once blazed a broad arc of yellows and reds from south-western Ecuador southward along the Peruvian coast to Huacho and inland to Catamayo. Today, less than 7% of original cover remains. As a result, many species are relegated to isolated and fragmented forest patches, often in remote and inaccessible areas. Of the more than 800 bird species recorded in these forests, 82 are found nowhere else on Earth (endemic) and of these, eight species are considered at extreme risk of extinction.

Globally Threatened Species in the region:

Grey-cheeked Parakeet Brotogeris pyrrhopterus – Endangered
Blackish-headed Spinetail Synallaxis tithys – Endangered
Slaty Becard Pachyramphus spodiurus – Endangered
White-winged Guan Penelope albipennis - Critically Endangered
Peruvian Plantcutter Phytotoma raimondii – Endangered
Long-whiskered Owlet Xenoglaux loweryi – Endangered
Ochre-fronted Antpitta Grallaricula ochraceifrons – Endangered
Marvellous Spatuletail Loddigesia mirabilis - EndangeredEnigmatic species like the endangered Marvellous Spatuletail, a hummingbird species whose pendulum-like tail feathers have attracted thousands of bird watchers from around the world, and the critically endangered and much hunted White-winged Guan, are just two of eight globally threatened birds that may disappear in our lifetime, states Dr. Amiro Perez, BirdLife International's project leader in the region.

In 2004, BirdLife International and Conservation International joined forces and mapped 33 globally Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in northern Peru as part of a massive inventory of 430 sites throughout Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia - an area referred to by Conservation International as the ‘Tropical Andes Hotspot’.

Recognising the global importance of the dry and humid forests of northern Peru and the urgency of the situation, in 2004 the British Bird Watching Fair (Birdfair) raised an initial $300,000 to support immediate on-the-ground conservation action aimed at supporting the conservation of eight of the most critical IBAs previously identified. [The eight most critical Important Bird Area sites are: Coto de Caza de Angolo (PE002), Talara (PE003), Cuyas (PE005), the locality of Limon at Olmos (PE011), Laquipampa (PE015), Chaparri (PE018), Lagunas de Pomacochas (PE054), and the locality of Abra Patricia at Alto Mayo (PE055).] Together with a number of national and international non-governmental organisations, BirdLife will support a variety of pilot projects ranging from the re-introduction of the White-winged Guan into Chaparri and Laquipampa (where it had been extirpated), habitat restoration in Pomacochas (one of the few sites in the world for the Marvelous Spatuletail), and the construction of an interpretative centre to raise local awareness of the Long-whiskered Owlet (one of the rarest and most secretive owls in the Americas). [National and international non-governmental organisations and government agencies involved include Consejo Nacional del Ambiente - CONAM (National Council for the Environment), Instituto Nacional de Recursos Naturales - INRENA (National Institute for Natural Resources) and the tourism agency PromPeru. Other conservation organisations involved are: American Bird Conservancy (ABC), CARE, Cracidea Foundation, ECOAN, Nature and Culture International and the Naymlap Foundation.]

Says Dr. Hugo Arnal, Northern Andes Program Director of the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), We need to move exceptionally fast if we are going to protect some of the few remaining tracks of forest in this region and the key to our success will depend on forging strong alliances with local groups who have the on-the-ground experience and regional knowledge to help move conservation forward. Nature and Culture International's Peruvian Director, Luis Alban agrees. Local community engagement and support is critical. Local farmers in this region can earn as little as a dollar per day. We need to provide better alternatives to the traditional slash and burn agriculture that is in large part, responsible for the massive loss of the dry forests in Peru and throughout the tropics.

To address the needs of communities in and adjacent to the IBAs, BirdLife with support from the Birdfair has created a fund to support activities that promote alternative practices that are less harmful to the habitat and species of these sites. [BirdLife together with Nature and Culture International and Fundación ProBosque in Ecuador are raising awareness of the value of the Tumbesian Forests at the local, regional, national and international levels through a bi-national Clearing House Mechanism called DarwinNet (http://www.darwinnet.org/)]

Contacts

Amiro Perez-Leroux, Partner Development Officer, Quito, Ecuador, tel: + 593 2 245 3645, amiro.perez@birdlife.org.ec

Luis Alban, Executive Director, Nature and Culture International, Sullana, Peru, tel + 51 73 502 43, lalban@natureandculture.org
Hugo Arnal, Northen Andes Programme Manager, American Bird Conservancy, Washington DC, harnal@abcbirds.org

Ed Parnell, Communications Officer, BirdLife, Cambridge, UK, tel: + 44 (0)1223 277318, ed.parnell@birdlife.org

4th July 2014