Award for co-author of a report on work carried out working with World Land Trust’s (WLT) partner Fundacion Jocotoco in Ecuador.
Dr Claudia Hermes, a BirdLife Red List Team Member, has been announced as one of the five winners of the 2019 BioOne Ambassador Award. This award was created to spotlight rising scholars in their field. BioOne invited qualified nominees to submit a 250-word, plain-language summary explaining the impact of their specialised work on the public at large. She was nominated by the Editor in Chief of Écoscience .
Co-writers of her report A Framework for Prioritizing Areas of Conservaton in Tropical Montane Cloud Forest were Gernot Segelbacher and Martin Schaefer, who is CEO of WLT’s Ecuadorian partner, Fundación Jocotoco .
Dr. Hermes was nominated for her research on planning for future conservation in the montane cloud forests of Ecuador, specifically as it relates to the Ecuadorian Tapaculo and El Oro Parakeet. She and her co-authors created a toolkit to predict where these species will move as climate change and human intervention encroach on their natural habitat. This toolkit can be used to identify areas of future conservation, so efforts can be made today to preserve them for tomorrow.
The judges commented: “Dr Hermes lays her research out with clarity, and she was able to effectively communicate the importance and application of her research for future conservation efforts. We think her research and summary would be of interest to the World Land Trust, and thus wanted to make sure that you knew of her win. She is a credit to her field and an excellent communicator, and we are thrilled to celebrate her work.”
How do we plan a nature reserve in a habitat that is being affected by climate change?
In the face of climate change WLT’s conservation partners are faced with decisions on how to plan a nature reserve when the habitat may not be there in a few year’s time. The summary of the report begins: Animals often escape rising temperatures of climate change by fleeing to cooler zones. But how do we know where these new refuges are going to be?
Tropical forests are among the most species-rich, yet most threatened habitats on Earth – essential refuges for unique species found nowhere else. Coupled with existing threats, of which there are many, if we do not prepare for climate change, they may be lost altogether.
The forest focus was on Buenaventura Reserve and in these forests, many species can and do move uphill, where temperatures are lower. With species on the move how best can protected areas be created? Will it be necessary to locate reserves at higher altitudes where the target species lives now. But where exactly? How much further up?
The authors of the report have developed a toolkit which informs these questions. “Our method shows how to map the most important refuges for a species, depending on the intensity of climate change. With our toolkit, we determined that a threatened parrot of the Andes will move about 250 metres uphill into a largely deforested area. We can now proactively implement conservation measures there, restore the forests and protect them, to ensure the parrot will still find habitat in the future”, says Dr Hermes. “The greatest advantage of our toolkit is that it can be adapted to many species and locations. We expect that installing these ‘forests of tomorrow’ will become a key asset in preserving biodiversity for future generations.”
RESTORING FOREST IN BUENAVENTURA RESERVE
WLT helping create more habitat for the endangered El Oro Parakeet
It is difficult to believe that this ornate parakeet managed to elude discovery for so long. It was first discovered in 1980 and only officially described in 1988. It is known from just a few locations along the western slope of the Andes in south western Ecuador. Classified as Endangered, the sole protected area for this species is Fundación Jocotoco’s Buenaventura Reserve.
Buenaventura Reserve, owned and protected by WLT partner, Fundación Jocotoco. The reserve covers 6,920 acres (2,800 hectares) of habitat that includes some dry Tumbesian forests which occur in southern Ecuador and north western Peru with species from the humid forests of Chocó in the north western Ecuador. This is one of the most devastated regions worldwide with an estimated 5-10 per cent of the original forest cover surviving.
New Plant a Tree Project
WLT has just committed to help fund the restoration of nearly 70 acres (30 hectares) of prime El Oro Parakeet habitat within Buenaventura reserve, through the reforestation of 30,000 native tree species. WLT funding will be matched by the Rotary Club for the project’s first three years.
Previously, WLT has supported the reforestation of more than 1,200 acres (500 hectares) at Buenaventura. Fundación Jocotoco’s vision is to continue reforestation to create an altitudinal corridor, to increase connectivity as species move higher up the mountain due to climate change. There are additional threats to the natural vegetation of these foothills due to land use change, with only an estimated 5-10% of the original forest cover remaining and the reserve becoming increasingly isolated. Not only is Buenaventura reserve an important refuge for endangered species but it is also an important water resource for local communities. This project will restore forests and connectivity, protect vital water supplies and conserve the diversity of threatened species within the remaining forest habitat.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
You can plant a native tree to restore forest in WLT project areas for £5 per tree, which also funds the maintenance and protection of the sapling. For a gift donation of £25 of more, you will receive a personalised gift certificate and project information in a beautiful wallet showcasing images from WLT project areas.