WASHINGTON, DECEMBER 19, 2007 - The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) recently approved a $743,000 grant to the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences to sustain the development and implementation of conservation programs that address the decline of shorebird populations throughout the Western Hemisphere.
The conservation activities will be conducted by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), a coalition of conservation organizations with 68 shorebird protection sites in nine nations of the Western Hemisphere. This network of sites is essential to the ambitious Shorebird Recovery Project, led by the Executive Office of WHSRN at Manomet. The NFWF funds will be matched two to one by Manomet and other non-governmental organizations, for a total investment of more than $2.2 million for conservation projects.
"This is our largest award yet to WHSRN, and reflects our confidence in their ability to build the international coalitions necessary to conserve shorebirds across the Hemisphere," notes Dr. Daniel Petit, Director of the NFWF Bird Conservation Initiative. "This grant also launches a new era in bird conservation investments for NFWF, one in which we are focused on producing tangible outcomes in terms of population increases for imperiled species. Working with partners such as WHSRN, we are establishing aggressive goals to stem the declines in Red Knots, American Oystercatchers and other species."
"WHSRN is a coalition of partners - hundreds of groups voluntarily joining to conserve shorebird species and their habitats at a breathtaking scale - founded by visionary leaders in 1985. This award continues and greatly expands our on-the-ground conservation for key species and critical places," said WHSRN's Executive Office Director, Dr. Charles Duncan. "In addition it will allow us and our partners across the hemisphere to build a stronger scientific understanding of shorebird population declines and a 'conservation accounting' that can judge our progress to achieving our goal of healthy shorebird populations."
The projects that the grant will support include:
- New land protection/habitat management initiatives at three critical sites in Mexico, all for high priority species identified in the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan.
- "Pride" campaigns in three communities in Patagonia, Argentina that host hemispherically important numbers of Red Knots.
- Support for the Tierra del Fuego Bird Observatory to protect migratory shorebirds and support sustainable economic development in southernmost Chile.
- Demographic metrics and success measures ("conservation accounting") for endangered Red Knots as part of a larger recovery effort for the species.
- Strengthening and expanding the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network by identifying and enrolling new sites in Latin America.
- Implementing Manomet's Shorebird Recovery project (SRP), by coordinating and facilitating on-the-ground conservation with partners at WHSRN and other key sites
- Leadership for the Shorebird Research Group of the Americas (SRGA) in their work to determine the underlying causes of shorebird declines.
- Accelerating shorebird monitoring work to measure population sizes and trends with the Program for International and Regional Shorebird Monitoring.
- Enhancing the value of ricelands as shorebird habitat and as a sustainable economic activity in northern South America.
"Migratory species capture our imagination as humans, and depend on healthy ecosystems across the hemisphere that also provide critical benefit to humans as well," said Jeffrey Parrish, Vice-President of Conservation Sciences at Manomet Center. "This leadership grant to Manomet from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will ensure that we and our partners make dramatic progress in reversing declines of shorebirds-the marathon migrants of the world-while saving habitat from Alaska to Argentina for people and nature."
By incorporating Manomet's integrated 3-S strategy of Site-based Conservation; building the Science foundation; and using explicit Success measures, projects will move more quickly and efficiently to recovering shorebird populations, allowing for adaptive management when new approaches are needed and providing the opportunity to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.
To date, with previous awards from NFWF, the Manomet WHSRN program and its partners' accomplishments have included the following:
- Protection of 20,000 acres of winter habitat in Mexico for two high priority shorebirds: Long-billed Curlew and Mountain Plover
- Conservation action plans to guide recovery for over a dozen of the highest priority species
- A sophisticated yet easy to use tool for evaluation of the status, threats and conservation actions for WHSRN and other sites with high biodiversity
- Programs for cattle ranchers in South America to improve the financial return for their beef while providing habitat for the Buff-breasted Sandpiper
- Three years of statistically valid monitoring for northbound migratory Red Knots, an endangered species.
- The first - ever workshop for rice growers, extension agents, and conservationists in South America to explore collaborative approaches to shorebird conservation in rice growing fields.
Shorebirds are a biologically distinct group of small to medium-sized birds generally with long legs, long bills and pointed wings. Shorebirds can be found at the shores of oceans and lakes, in grasslands and marshes, and even in dry uplands.
Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences is one of the nation's only independent non-profits dedicated exclusively to carrying out environmental research. Originally founded nearly 40 years ago as the Manomet Bird Observatory, its scientists have been bringing together environmental stakeholders - communities, individuals, universities, government agencies, and businesses - to develop cooperative, science-based policies and management strategies. Dedicated to conserving the natural world for the benefit of wildlife and human populations, Manomet scientists work to conserve forest, wetland, marine, and agricultural habitats, as well as birds and wildlife populations throughout the Western Hemisphere. For more information, please visit www.manomet.org.
About the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network
The Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) is a voluntary, non-regulatory coalition whose mission is the conservation of shorebird species and their habitats across the Americas. Created in 1985 as a visionary approach to addressing shorebird conservation needs, WHSRN today consists of 68 sites in nine nations and over 21 million acres. Working in conjunction with hundreds of landowners, land trusts, corporations and national governments, WHSRN is the only hemisphere-wide conservation program focused on protecting shorebirds. WHSRN's Executive Office is a key program of the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, Manomet, Massachusetts, USA. For more information, please visit www.whsrn.org
About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)
A nonprofit established by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation sustains, restores and enhances the Nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Through leadership conservation investments with public and private partners, NFWF is dedicated to achieving maximum conservation impact by developing and applying best practices and innovative methods for measurable outcomes. Since its establishment, NFWF has awarded nearly 9,500 grants to over 3,000 organizations in the United States and abroad and leveraged - with its partners - more than $400 million in federal funds into more than $1.3 billion for on-the-ground conservation. For more information, visit www.nfwf.org.