American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and its partners seeking to acquire habitat for endangered and declining bird species received a major boost with the announcement of a $900,000 challenge grant and $100,000 for other conservation work from New York philanthropist Robert Wilson.
“We are thrilled by the huge opportunity Robert Wilson’s foresight and dedication presents for conserving the world’s rarest bird species,” said George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy. “With the average cost to acquire land in South America only $100 per acre, this generous challenge grant means many more imperiled bird species will have a permanent place to call home.”
This year alone, ABC and its partners have so far protected 28 tracts of land in Central and South America that provide core habitat for more than 700 species of birds, including four that are globally endangered, the Santa Marta Parakeet, Jocotoco Antpitta, Black-breasted Puffleg, and Long-whiskered Owlet. The sites also provide key wintering habitat for dozens of migratory songbird species including the Cerulean and Golden-winged Warblers.
Mr. Wilson has asked for a 3:1 match for his gift, to leverage additional support and encourage others to participate in this critical land acquisition campaign. “These funds will be targeted towards priority sites for species that are very rare or declining fast,” said Fenwick. “With the help of others to match Mr. Wilson’s generous offer, we can buy parcels to protect several additional priority bird species. But it is not only birds that will benefit. Biodiversity including declining frogs and other amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and plants can all benefit from the management of these lands as protected reserves.”
Priority bird species in immediate need of habitat protection in Latin America include Worthen’s Sparrow and Long-billed Curlew (Mexico), Honduran Emerald hummingbird (Honduras), Chestnut-capped Piha (Colombia) and Lear’s Macaw (Brazil).
ABC has embarked upon a new, $40 million, five-year initiative, the American Birds Campaign aimed at protecting the great bird diversity of the Americas. The central themes of the conservation campaign are ensuring the future for endangered birds, restoring habitat for all declining birds, eliminating the worst threats, supercharging the bird conservation community, and applying conservation innovations to solve problems. Mr. Wilson’s pledge includes $900,000 for land purchase and $100,000 for other conservation work.