Protecting the Cochabamba Mountain-Finch from extinction, by creating a community-run tree nursery to save its threatened forest
The Cochabamba Mountain-Finch (Poospiza garleppi) is an Endangered species, whose population stronghold is in Cordillera de Cochabamba of central Bolivia. It is found nowhere else in the world.
Here at Armonía we are trying to save the species from extinction by working with indigenous communities to protect and reforest its habitat.
The species is in decline because of the widespread destruction of its threatened Polylepis forests. This rare Polylepis subtusalbida tree species, which is only found in this region, is being cut down to make way for intensive agricultural or is being replaced by plantations of exotic tree species, such as eucalyptus and pines that degrade soil quality.
Yet small breeding populations of Cochabamba Mountain-Finch sill occur in the mosaic of cultivated fields and remnant patches of native vegetation, primarily shrubs and grasses with a few scattered trees. We must urgently protect the remaining Polylepis forests and carry out reforestation if we are to save the species from extinction.
We need communities to become actively involved in the conservation of the forest, as it is the only way to ensure their long-term protection. Yet many people in our country live in desperate poverty and so Bolivia is looking for ways to develop quickly. Recent development centered around global precedents, such as large scale farming and destruction of natural resources. But there is another, more modern movement in Bolivia trying to follow a sustainable path.
Understanding the needs of the Bolivian people, especially poor and marginalized communities, is crucial to creating change and saving threatened habitats from extinction. This is why raising environmental awareness and creating alternative livelihoods for our people is central to our mission
Discover the 3 main ways that Armonía is saving the Cochabamba Mountain-Finch and its forests, while collaborating with local and indigenous communities:
- Reforesting the Polylepis forests by creating the first community-run tree nursery
- Running educational campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of the forest
- Creating a community-run birdwatching project to support local people
If you would like to support the Cochabamba Mountain-Finch program – to save this Endangered species and help support local communities – please donate.
Armonía has helped the Ch’aqui Potrero community create the first tree nursery that produces the threatened Polylepis subtusalbida species. As this is the only place where saplings of this tree species are produced, the community has become an important provider for habitat restoration projects across the region. Since 2013, they have produced nearly 5,000 saplings for reforestation campaigns in the communities of Caluyo, Ch’aqui Potrero and San Miguel.
This community-run reforestation work is crucial to the survival of the Polylepis forests and the many bird species that rely completely on this forest type, as they are found anywhere else on Earth. The tree nursery also provides an extra, alternative income for many poor families within the Ch’aqui Potrero community.
Education and awareness raising
Armonía also carries out intensive education and outreach activities to raise the awareness of the important ecosystem services provided by the native Polylepis forests. We focus our work on two communities to reforest areas not suitable for agriculture and to protect water canals from landslides.
In 2014, we started working with the San Miguel community to integrate them into an ongoing birdwatching project. San Miguel is an accessible area where the Cochabamba Mountain-Finch, as well as a variety of range-restricted bird species endemic to Polylepis forests, can be easily observed. We are building trails and installing signs to show visitors where the most interesting species can be seen and photographed.
Visitors pay an affordable fee to freely walk through the community’s land and, when needed, they are guided by a trained community member. In this way, local people are motivated to protect their woodlands as ecotourism is creating an extra, alternative income for many poor families. At the same time, the positive reaction shown by tourists to the region’s beauty and rare bird life creates a feeling of local pride within the community.
The Cochabamba Mountain-Finch program has achieved many successes, but it urgently needs greater support to increase the number of saplings produced in the tree nursery, to reach more people through educational campaigns, and to attract more tourists to the community-run birdwatching project.
If you would like to support the Cochabamba Mountain-Finch program – to save this Endangered species and support local people – please donate.
Thank you for your support
We thank our international partners and individual donors for the achievements of Cochabamba Mountain-Finch program – we cannot save the species or empower our people without your generous support. Thank you.