BirdLife International welcomes a new Partner to the BirdLife family: Peruvian conservation group ECOAN

Local volunteers reforesting mountain slopes as part of the Acción Andina initiative. Planting vegetation not only helps wildlife, but also safeguards against climate change, flooding and erosion © ECOAN

Peru is home to more than 15% of the world’s bird species: an astonishing 1,861 in total, 138 of them found nowhere else on Earth. From the arid plains of the Pacific coast to the mountainous Andes and the tropical rainforests of the Amazon basin, its varied landscapes make the country a hotspot for wildlife of all kinds. BirdLife is therefore delighted to welcome a new Partner for Peru: Ecosistemas Andinos, or ECOAN for short.

Despite only joining the BirdLife family this June, ECOAN is a prominent conservation NGO in Peru with a 20-year history. Over this time, it has been working to conserve some of the country’s most threatened species through the establishment of nature reserves at Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas. It has also worked with indigenous communities to restore important high Andean forests, and raised public and political awareness of the importance of Peru’s ecosystems.

To date, its community reforestation programme has resulted in more than three million native trees being planted across Peru. As well as restoring habitat for threatened wildlife, these new forests benefit the local population by offsetting climate change, providing clean water, preventing erosion and supporting indigenous communities. To expand this project, ECOAN co-founded Acción Andina (Andean Action): the first multi-country, large-scale initiative to restore high-altitude forests across the length of the Andes. The goal is to work with local and indigenous communities to protect and restore one million hectares of this critical ecosystem over the next 25 years.

Within Peru’s borders, ECOAN has been able to protect, restore and manage more than 30,000 hectares of critical habitat so far. This has benefited a host of threatened bird species including Marvelous Spatuletail and Junin Grebe (both Endangered), as well as Royal Cinclodes (Critically Endangered). The conservation measures are also a lifeline for mammals such as Spectacled Bear (Vulnerable to extinction).

Above: Local volunteers reforesting mountain slopes as part of the Acción Andina initiative. Planting vegetation not only helps wildlife, but also safeguards against climate change, flooding and erosion © ECOAN

ECOAN works with the Pomacochas Community to protect Marvelous Spatuletail habitat © thibaudaronson

BirdLife first worked closely with ECOAN on the High Andean Wetlands conservation protect, launched in 2010. The high Andean wetlands are home to some of South America’s most threatened bird species, and are vital links in the chain of sites used by migratory birds which breed in North America. Through the project, a new protected area was created to safeguard the breeding grounds of Hooded Grebe (Critically Endangered), and other protected areas have been strengthened and extended. Thanks to the success of this collaboration, there is now much greater public, political and scientific knowledge of the importance of this vital ecosystem.

“Since 2007, when I first worked at BirdLife, there was great interest on the part of ECOAN to become a BirdLife partner,” says Itala Yepez, Head of Conservation, BirdLife Americas. “Their affinity with our goals, and their focus on bird conservation in Peru, among others, made them ideal candidates for the position.”

BirdLife has already begun collaborating with ECOAN to find financing for its work in Andean forests. But despite ECOAN’s name (Ecosistemas Andinos means ‘Andean Ecosystems’ in Spanish), its work doesn’t just cover this region. The organisation is also active in the lakes and plateaus of Junín, the rainforests and deep river gorges of Amazonas, and the incredible historical landscape of Cusco, among other locations.

Constantino Auca, Chief Executive Officer of ECOAN, looks forward to expanding the reach of the organisation as part of the BirdLife Partnership: “In the last 21 years, ECOAN has grown and shown really important impacts on a large scale in Peru. ECOAN wishes to remain efficient and scale up its conservation actions. Now being a BirdLife Partner, we feel we are being given a great opportunity to join forces with other organisations in the region and at the global level for the conservation of birds and biodiversity, fulfilling our institutional mission.”