Schoolchildren in Bolivia plant 300 native trees for the Red-fronted Macaw to improve the natural habitat for a species that is struggling to survive
The Red-fronted Macaw is an Endangered species from a small region in the Andean valleys of south-central Bolivia. It lives nowhere else on Earth. Children from a local school took the conservation of the species into their own hands by planting 300 trees in their nearby nature reserve.
The Red-fronted Macaw Reserve was created by Armonía in 2009, with the support of indigenous communities. Recently, we invited children from the local school to plant trees within the reserve, thanks to support from Dana Gardner.
We also took the children on of a birdwatching trip and gave each of them a new pocket guide to identify bird species within the reserve. Running these educational and conservation activities with communities is part of a wider program to secure the future of the Red-fronted Macaw, while empowering local indigenous people.
We work with Quechua indigenous communities that live near the Red-fronted Macaw Reserve to diversity their agriculture and income streams, as additional benefits and incentives for conservation. We run workshops to help improve their bee keeping and honey production, papaya cultivation, and support their community-run ecotourism project. This is creating a substantial alternative income for local communities that have suffered through poverty and marginalization.
Most people in the country are unaware of the importance of the Red-fronted Macaw; that it is an Endangered species that only exists in Bolivia. We are conducting a wide-ranging education campaign to: raise awareness of the conservation issues, discourage trafficking and persecution, and recruit local communities into macaw conservation projects.
There are only about 1,000 Red-fronted Macaws left in the wild. The species is threatened by the destruction of its dry forests, poaching to supply the illegal pet trade, and persecution by local farmers because they eat crops. We know that we must create behavioral changes across Bolivia to tackle the illegal pet trade and the persecution of the macaw. Understanding the needs of the Bolivian people, especially poor and marginalized communities, is crucial to creating change and saving the species from extinction.
We need communities to become actively involved in the conservation of their natural heritage, as it is the only way to ensure the long-term protection of Bolivia’s habitats and wildlife. Yet many people in our country live in desperate poverty. They worry about how they will feed their children. Why should they care about the extinction of a bird? To overcome this problem and successfully achieve community engagement, we have directly linked nature’s protection with improved living standards and livelihoods.
Here at Armonía, the empowerment of the Bolivian people is central to our mission.