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Partnering for Grassland Conservation

 American Golden Plover
American Golden Plover Photo: Ron Ridout

As noted in the State of Canada’s Birds report, many grassland bird species have been suffering severe declines.In support of Bird Studies Canada’s grassland bird research and conservation initiatives, our Manitoba Projects Manager Dr. Christian Artuso recently participated in meetings of the Alianza del Pastizal (“Grasslands Alliance”) – a wonderful initiative led by BirdLife International with the participation of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil, four countries in the Southern Cone grasslands of South America.

 These grasslands are home to a variety of endemic and threatened species. They’re also the wintering grounds for some North American migratory birds of concern, including Bobolink, Upland Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, and American Golden-Plover.

Christian Artuso, representing Bird Studies Canada at the 9th Alianza del Pastizal (“Grasslands Alliance”)

Posted by Alianza del Pastizal on Friday, November 20, 2015

Christian Artuso, representing Bird Studies Canada at the 9th Alianza del Pastizal (“Grasslands Alliance”)

 

Bobolink
Bobolink Photo: May Haga

Hundreds of South American agricultural producers are enrolled in the Alianza del Pastizal program. Participants manage their pastures following established protocols to maintain ecological integrity and biodiversity. This enables them to sell their high-quality, environmentally-friendly products under a certified label. Over the past 10 years, this model has proved remarkably effective. Conservationists hope to emulate this approach in North America.

The Alianza del Pastizal holds annual meetings for producers and stakeholders. This year’s meeting was held November 6 and 7, 2015, in Santana Do Livramento, Brazil. The 9th Southern Cone Grassland Ranchers Meeting and the 7th Seminar on Cattle and Grasslands were held concurrently. At least 460 people, many of them local producers, attended. Topics covered by presentations and panels included: products and quality indices (mainly beef and lamb); best management practices; certification and marketing; ecotourism; biodiversity and species richness benefits; threatened species response; and bird monitoring results.

Upland Sandpiper
Upland Sandpiper Photo: May Haga

Bird Studies Canada, Nature Canada, Audubon, and Pronatura Mexico (the North American BirdLife International affiliates) participated by invitation. At the directors meeting, we discussed strengthening hemispheric collaboration for full life-cycle conservation. A joint presentation by Dr. Christian Artuso (Bird Studies Canada) and John Beavers (Audubon) outlined our work to address the plight of at-risk grassland bird species in North America.

This remarkable meeting showcased the power of international collaboration and market-based conservation planning. There is a great deal we can learn from our southern partners about overcoming political hurdles and engaging agricultural producers in conservation. Bird Studies Canada is now collaborating on ways to do just that in North America.

Dr. Artuso’s attendance at this important international meeting was made possible with generous support from The Schad Foundation.

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