Mar 12

Endangered birds in Peru may be protected from extinction by conservation efforts that have seen over a million new trees planted in the last nine years.

Photo of a marvellous spatuletail at feeder

Marvellous spatuletail, just one Peruvian species that will benefit from tree-planting projects

Led by Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos (ECOAN) and supported by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), the efforts resulted in over 150,000 trees being planted in 2011 alone.

In one project, which started in mid-2011, over 50,000 native trees and shrubs of 21 different species were planted on degraded land between two important Andean reserves, the Abra Patricia-Alto Nieva Private Conservation Area and Huembo Conservation Easement.

It is hoped that the new trees will provide habitat for a range of endangered birds, including the marvellous spatuletail, ochre-fronted antpitta and long-whiskered owlet, as well as creating a buffer zone around existing, adjacent forests. In addition to the benefits to the ecosystem, reforestation efforts have provided seasonal jobs for local people.

Photo of an ochre-fronted antpitta

Ochre-fronted antpitta

Community nurseries

A second, ongoing project is planting native trees and shrubs as well as thousands of coffee bushes on private land in communities surrounding the Abra Patricia and Huembo reserves.

The trees are produced in local community nurseries, by and for local people, and are being planted for a variety of uses, including reforestation, as ‘living fences’ to provide natural boundaries for pasture land, and for silvipasture, which combines forestry and grazing activities. They will also be part of ‘agroforestry’ systems where shade coffee and other crops are produced under a canopy of trees.

Photo of a long-whiskered owlet perched on branch

Long-whiskered owlet

We are thrilled by the successes in reforestation, especially when our efforts conserve biodiversity and protect water resources in a way that provides economic benefits to local families, as is the case with shade coffee,” said Efrain Samochuallpa Solis, Director of Projects at ECOAN.

Daniel Lebbin, ABC Conservation Biologist and one of the project coordinators, added, “This has been an outstanding, cooperative effort that provides a score of benefits to birds, other wildlife, the local economy and the environment. We are excited to have been a part of such a grass roots win, win, win effort.”

Restoring Polylepis woodland

In a third project, ECOAN has been working with local communities in the Vilcanota Mountains of Cusco to plant 46,000 native Polylepis trees.

Photo of Polylepis incana

Polylepis forest

Polylepis forest supports a range of threatened birds, such as the Critically Endangered royal cinclodes, but is rapidly disappearing due to cutting for firewood, clearing for pastures and overgrazing by cattle. This high-altitude forest is important not only for wildlife, but also for water systems and the prevention of soil erosion.

As part of the project, non-native pine and eucalyptus trees have also been planted at lower elevations, to provide an alternative source of fuel wood and reduce the harvesting pressure on endangered Polylepis forest.

Photo of royal cinclodes standing on the ground

The royal cinclodes, a Critically Endangered species dependent on Polylepis woodland

Further conservation efforts in Peru

Further conservation work being undertaken in central Peru by ECOAN and ABC includes the establishment of a new conservation area to help protect vanishing cloud forest and its wildlife.

The new 1,977-acre Monte Potrero Municipal Conservation Area in the department of Huánaco will help to protect birds such as the fire-throated metaltail, white-chinned thistletail, white-browed conebill and rufous-browed hemispingus. It will also benefit a range of other wildlife, including the endangered Andean cat.

Photo of rufous-browed hemispingus among vegetation

Rufous-browed hemispingus

The two organisations are also collaborating to promote tourism along the ‘Central Peru Birding Route’, to acquire and renovate new headquarters for the Tingo Maria National Park, and to establish the San Marcos Private Conservation Area.

Read more about this story at ABC – Extinction of endangered birds may be avoided by mass tree-planting efforts in Peru.

Find out more about the work of Asociación Ecosistemas Andinos and the American Bird Conservancy.

View photos and videos of birds from Peru on ARKive.

Liz Shaw, ARKive Species Text Author

  • Pinto Peanut (May 28th, 2012 at 4:52 pm):

    Wow!! The birds are so beautiful. But we are very heartless that we cut plants. We do not think where they live, What happened with our environment?
    Ya. We should plant more plant to save this creature.