Creating protected areas of Polylepis forest with community collaboration, to save two highly specialized and endangered birds: Royal Cinclodes and Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrants
The tiny remnants of Polylepis pepei forest, restricted to remote valleys in the Andes of Bolivia and Peru, is the primary habitat for the Critically Endangered Royal Cinclodes and the Endangered Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant.
Their habitat, already at 10% of original coverage, continues to be reduced and degraded through cutting for firewood and building materials, burning, and overgrazing. As a result, the populations of both species are severely fragmented and extremely small.
Armonía is focusing its efforts on one key area for the species; with the communities’ active collaboration, we have turned forest fragments into protected areas and carried out reforestation.
In 2014, we began a collaborative project with the Cotapata National Park and are helping establish a tree nursery to produce Polylepis pepei saplings that will be planted within this park. We are also training the park rangers to monitor the population of the Royal Cinclodes and the Ash-breasted Tit-tyrant.
Now we urgently need to protect the northernmost sites, where we believe the largest populations of both species occur. People from this region continue clearing the remaining Polylepis forest fragments for firewood and their livestock are preventing the regeneration of forest fragments. As mining is their main source of income, they show little interest in developing other activities that would help them to diversify their livelihoods. It is urgent that we start to help develop responsible mining to reduce the impact on native forests.
Although this program is in its initial stage of development, we have years of experience in generating alternative, sustainable livelihoods with local people, so we are confident that with the right support we could do the same within the Polylepis Forest program.
To ensure that the Polylepis Forest program is a success we need to enhance our conservation measures and create behavioural changes.
The program urgently needs support to fund the ongoing protection of the remaining Polylepis forest fragments, or there will not be enough habitat to support viable populations of Royal Cinclodes and Ash-breasted Tit-Tyrant.
If you would like to support the Polylepis Forest program – to save these endangered and highly specialized birds – please donate.
Thank you for your support