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May-25-2010 16:56printcomments

Peruvian Government Ramps up Habitat Protection for Endangered Bird Species

Three New Private Conservation Areas Approved.

Participants in the signing ceremony for the approval of three new Peruvian conservation areas
Participants in the signing ceremony for the approval of three new Peruvian conservation areas. From left to right: Avelino Perez, Feliciano Baños, Antonio Brack Egg (Minister of the Environment), Armando Rodriguez, Luis Alfaro (Director of SERNANP – the national system of protected lands), and Juan Loayza.

(WASHINGTON D,C.) - The Peruvian government has announced the creation of several new conservation areas that will have significant ramifications in the ongoing efforts to protect habitat for endangered bird species in the country.

The Peruvian Minister of the Environment, Antonia José Brack Egg, recently announced his government’s approval of three new, community-owned, private conservation areas encompassing 8,438 acres on community owned lands to protect Polylepis forest in the Vilcanota Mountains of southeastern Peru, near Cusco. Government approval of such private conservation areas is significant because it recognizes at the highest level the importance of preserving these areas for conservation purposes.

The three new private conservation areas are called Choquechaca, Mantanay, and Sele Tecse Ayllu Lares, and significantly add to the 755 acres already protected within two other areas (Abra Malaga-Thastayoc and Hatum Queña) in the Vilcanota Mountains by local communities working with ECOAN and ABC.

ECOAN and ABC have been working in the Vilcanota Mountains with local communities to protect, reforest, and restore healthy Polylepis habitat on their communal lands to benefit several globally threatened birds that are unique to this habitat, including the endangered Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant and White-browed Tit-Spinetail, and the critically endangered and highly range-restricted Royal Cinclodes. Currently, only about 2-3% of the original high-elevation Polylepis forest remains in all of Peru, threatening the rich and specialized biota of this vanishing ecosystem.

“The declaration and approval of these private protected areas is the culmination of years of effort by ECOAN and ABC working with local communities in Vilcanota. This initiative will greatly benefit the unique birds of the region,” said Daniel Lebbin, Conservation Biologist at ABC.

ECOAN continues to erect signs to mark reserve boundaries, put up fences to exclude grazing animals, and improve infrastructure at these protected areas and on other community lands in the region. Thanks to efforts by ECOAN and ABC this past season, 81,000 Polylepis saplings were planted to create future habitat for threatened birds. Three additional nurseries were also initiated with a combined capacity to produce 47,000 Polylepis saplings annually. Work continues with several other communities to declare additional private protected areas in the region.

Polylepis is a genus of trees and shrubs that grow at or above the tree line only in the Andes of South America. These plants are wind-pollinated and are characterized by their small leaves and a multi-layered, papery bark, hence the name, meaning "many-scales.”

ABC Partner Granted Key Conservation Concession

Additionally, after years of effort, the Peruvian conservation organization Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) obtained approval from the government of Peru establishing the new, 40-year, Abra Patricia-Alto Mayo Conservation Concession in northern Peru. This will enable ECOAN to manage over 16,561 acres of government-owned montane forest in the north of the country for birds.

This new protected area connects the existing 6,690-acre Abra Patricia-Alto Mayo Private Conservation Area that was established by ECOAN and ABC in 2007 with the 449,700-acre Alto Mayo Protection Forest to create a continuous protected landscape spanning almost 473,000 acres.

“Receiving official government approval for this designation is a milestone for our bird conservation efforts,” said Tino Aucca, President of ECOAN.

“I am thrilled at this accomplishment. The very special birds in the area will certainly benefit, and everyone concerned about the environment should be ecstatic,” said Sara Lara, ABC’s International Division Director.

The Abra Patricia bird list includes 317 bird species, of which 23 are considered globally threatened, including four endangered species: the Long-whiskered Owlet, Ochre-fronted Antpitta, Royal Sunangel, and Ash-throated Antwren. The critically endangered yellow-tailed wooly monkey also occurs here, as do wintering songbirds from North America, including several on the U.S. WatchList of birds of concern, such as the Olive-sided Flycatcher and Canada Warbler.

If you are interested in visiting the area, please visit

American Bird Conservancy conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.

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