6. Increase the Power of International Partnerships
Our three countries share bird species, and our birds share habitats and face common threats. Existing programs and funds that support a coordinated international approach to conservation have achieved great results. However, the continued decline of continental landbirds and the widespread deterioration of habitats indicate that much more needs to be done. We need to expand the capacity of international partnerships and develop new mechanisms for achieving conservation.
Fully Implement NABCI Tri-National Projects
The North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) promotes a strategic approach to conserving birds through the identification of continentally important areas. Since NABCI’s inception in 1999, four Joint Venture-like Regional Alliances have been established in Mexico to facilitate and promote communication, international collaboration, and conservation action: Yucatan, Marismas Nacionales, el Triunfo, and Grasslands of the Chihuahuan Desert. Increased international support to fully implement these alliances will help conserve a large proportion of species of high tri-national concern.
|Educators from Mexico’s National
Commission for Natural Protected
Areas discuss plans for environmental
education that supports conservation
objectives within the Sonoran Joint
|Photo by Jennie Duberstein|
Two international Joint Ventures (Sonoran JV, Rio Grande JV) focus on protecting more than 100 species of high conservation priority in the aridlands, tropical deciduous forests,and pine-oak forests of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Increased support is needed for these, and other new cross-border partnerships, to expand their capacity and incentives for habitat conservation, community involvement and capacity building, conservation and ecotourism training, outreach materials, and monitoring and research. Similarly, the Pacific Coast Joint Venture spans the border of Canada and the United States, providing opportunities to protect high-priority landbirds of western temperate forests.
Sonoran and Rio Grande Joint Ventures
|The Sonoran and Rio Grande Joint Ventures operate in the area with the highest number of species whose responsibility is substantially shared by Mexico and the United States.|
Substantially increased funding to enhance international conservation capacity is necessary to meet the goals of PIF’s tri-national vision. Conservation efforts will benefit from expansion of funds allocated to existing programs, such as the U.S. Forest Service’s International Programs, U.S. National Park Service Park Flight Migratory Bird Program, the Southern Wings Program of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and Canada’s Latin America Program. These government-led programs would have far more positive impact if they were matched or supplemented by investment from private foundations, international aid organizations, and industry partners. In particular, we recommend increasing the funds allocated tothe Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA), enacted by the United States Congress in 2000 to establish a grant program for conserving migratory birds. Between 2002 and 2008, NMBCA supported 260 projects coordinated by partners in 48 states/territories and 36 countries. The more than $25.5 million awarded in grants over seven years has leveraged $116.5 million in matching funds and $6.1 million in additional funds. These projects positively impacted 1.9 million acres of bird habitat. Yet, many quality projects that could greatly impact conservation go unfunded. Doubling the funding appropriated to $10,000,000 (currently $4,500,000) would considerably enhance the impact of the program.
Adopt Green Policies and Business Practices at the Continental Scale
The 1994 North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation set a precedent as a formal environmental agreement adopted in parallel with an international trade agreement. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation, an early leader in tri-national bird conservation, provides an ideal forum for collaborative exploration of new policies that support the goals of PIF and a more sustainable trading relationship throughout the continent. Policy decisions that will help achieve our tri-national vision for bird conservation must be addressed at existing government tables, such as the Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management. The nongovernment (NGO) sector can be influential in establishing new partnerships with the private sector for financial support of bird conservation. NGOs are ideal to develop and promote certification programs for tourism, business, and land-use practices that support conservation. Businesses can thrive without depleting our natural capital or the ecological services upon which we depend.
for high-concern species
It is expensive to recover species from the edge of extinction. For high-concern species not federally listed in all or part of their range, international working groups serve as an excellent model for proactively addressing threats to habitats and reversing population declines. These partnerships, representing government, academic, conservation advocacy, and private industry sectors, can leverage significant funding for land acquisition and management, as well as important research aimed at finding economically viable conservation solutions.
The Cerulean Warbler Technical Group/El Grupo Cerúleo brings together partners from the forest-products, coal-mining, and coffee-production industries, multiple resource agencies, conservation NGOs, and university scientists from countries throughout the species' breeding and winter range. Other examples are the Golden-winged Warbler working group/Alianza Alas Doradas, International Rusty Blackbird Technical Working Group, and the Bicknell’s Thrush Working Group .
|Cerulean Warbler photo by Greg Lavaty|
Create Data-Driven Partnerships to Support Decision-Makers
Recent advances in Internet-based technology have spawned new partnerships centered around information-sharing to advance bird conservation. Communities of data providers and users can help disseminate conservation and decision support tools. They offer a hub for results of research on best management practices for landbirds, ranging from guidelines to alleviate direct mortalities and economic incentives for communities to endangered species’ recovery strategies. For example, the Avian Knowledge Alliance recently formed to promote the use of standard protocols and centralized access to bird-monitoring data through the Avian Knowledge Network which houses more than 70 million observations of birds from throughout the Western Hemisphere. Other partner-driven information systems such as Avesmx and Neotropical Birds can support policy planners, managers, and other decision-makers.
Gateway to the Hemisphere
Although this tri-national effort is a major step forward for Western Hemisphere bird conservation, two-thirds of our landbird species are shared with other Western Hemisphere countries, and well over one billion birds migrate beyond our borders to the West Indies, Central America, or South America each year. Only through greatly increased collaboration with other countries will we ensure a future for all of our hemisphere’s 4,200 bird species and the ecosystems on which they depend. Building on existing partnerships, such as the PIF Mesoamerican Working Group, and developing and strengthening partnerships in the Caribbean and South America, we can address the highest-priority conservation actions for our hemisphere’s birds.