New initiative focuses on protecting bird migration flows in Americas

Panama City, Dec 28 (EFE).- An alliance between science, philanthropy and the financial sector has proposed identifying at least 30 projects along the migration routes of birds in the Americas to help conserve, restore and manage the various species, a hemispheric response the crisis of loss of biodiversity in the region, the Development Bank for Latin America (CAF) told EFE.

The Americas Flyway Initiative – an alliance of the CAF, BirdLife International and the National Audobon Society – was launched at the Biodiversity COP15 summit, which ended on Dec. 19 in Canada.

“It’s an unprecedented alliance because it unites philanthropy, science and a financial institution like the CAF,” and also because of “its interregional nature,” namely Latin America and North America, the bank’s Climate Action manager, Alicia Montalvo, told EFE.

The initiative identified more than 30 critical terrestrial and marine areas along the migration routes for various bird species in the Americas, with an eye toward conserving, restoring and managing them, those tasks to be undertaken by local partners, communities and indigenous peoples.

Three of the world’s eight main bird migration routes are located in the Americas, but waystations and wintering grounds are disappearing at an alarming rate along them, the CAF said.

There are at least 559 species of birds in Latin America and the Caribbean that are in danger of extinction, and since 1970 North America has lost some three billion birds, according to figures provided by the bank.

“The Americas Flyways Initiative is a hemispheric response to effectively deal with the crisis of biodiversity loss and climate change,” Montalvo added.

She said that the planning for the initiative “includes considering birds to be indicators of the quality of ecosystems,” given that they “cannot stop along their migration routes to feed, rest and mate,” meaning that “the ecosystems have deteriorated” in terms of the ecosystemic services that they can provide.

Thus, the alliance will work “first to identify a list of projects and second to mobilize additional financing” to undertake them.

At present, about $1 million has been contributed by the three institutions to begin identifying projects with an eye toward having an initial list of 10 projects by the end of 2023, from which three will be selected for more intensive action, she said.

“We’re going to identify wetlands, mangrove zones, pasturelands … in the region that can be key for the migration routes,” Montalvo said.

The group will not only look for projects to protect and restore the ecosystems, but also wants to “change the paradigm,” meaning “taking into consideration aspects that to date have not been included in the projects … to have a regional vision of connectivity, that is for our projects not to interrupt the migration routes,” she said.

Along with identifying projects, the group will look to “develop a financing mechanism,” which the CAF aspires to call “blue and green financing, which will allow us to bring in resources not only from the CAF but also from other institutions that can be contributed to this initiative.”

The group is even discussing “issuing bonds linked to this initiative,” that is some kind of “green bond to finance (improving) the quality of the ecosystems linked to the migration routes,” she said.

The CAF has made a commitment for 40 percent of its contributions to the hemispheric initiative to be devoted to the green agenda, and “within that the ecosystemic focus will occupy an important place,” she said.

EFE –/bp

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