Spectacular Bird Reserve Opens to Tourists
Colombian Reserve Protects World’s Highest Concentration of Continental Endemic and Endangered Bird and Amphibian Species
Fundación ProAves, American Bird Conservancy, and Conservation International have inaugurated the El Dorado Bird Reserve in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range of northern Colombia. The area boasts the highest concentration of continental range-restricted bird species in the world, with 21 endemics such as the Santa Marta Parakeet and Santa Marta Antpitta found nowhere else, as well as migratory songbirds from the United States.
“The region is internationally recognized by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as a critical area in need of conservation due to the extreme concentration of site-restricted and endangered bird and amphibian species,” said Fenwick. “The surviving forest fragment is an island paradise and biodiversity oasis.”
The reserve features ecotourism facilities designed to help make it self-sustaining, including the spacious Jeniam Ecolodge and the Blue Moon Restaurant. El Dorado is located between 2,900 and 8,500 feet above sea level amidst a stunning landscape of dense forests, with views to the 19,000-foot high peaks and glaciers of the Sierra Nevada, and the Caribbean beaches and mangroves of Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta.
“The birdwatching at the El Dorado Reserve is amazing because there are so many species that can only be seen there, and the views of the high peaks above and the beaches down below are absolutely spectacular,” said Fenwick, who recently travelled to the Reserve for its opening ceremony. “This easily accessible paradise on the Caribbean coast is the best place to go in all of Colombia.”
One hundred years of exploration in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta has revealed an extraordinary catalogue of rare species restricted to the forests in and around the reserve. In 2007, a new species, the Santa Marta Screech Owl, was discovered and several of the more than 50 endemic subspecies of birds have been shown to warrant separate species status. Amphibians, butterflies, plants, and other groups also show exceptional levels of endemism.
“Because these forests were at high risk of deforestation, development for vacation homes, and an invasion of non-native pines into native broadleaf forests, Fundación ProAves launched a campaign to protect the area,” said Fenwick. “With support from American Bird Conservancy, Conservation International, and others, ProAves has acquired nearly 1,700 acres of this living jewel, which is named after the legendary city of gold, El Dorado, for its phenomenal biological value.”
With the support of CorpoMag, ProAves is now replacing the aggressive pines with native trees, which will also help ensure the forest can continue to provide clean drinking water for cities on the coast.
American Bird Conservancy is the only organization that works solely to conserve native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. ABC acts to safeguard the rarest bird species, restore habitats, and reduce threats, while building capacity in the conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.
Fundacion ProAves leads bird conservation efforts in Colombia through a multi-faceted approach of good science, strong community relations and protection of the most important sites and landscapes for birds.
Conservation International (CI) applies innovations in science, economics, policy and community participation to protect the Earth's richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the biodiversity hotspots, high-biodiversity wilderness areas and key marine ecosystems. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., CI works in more than 40 countries on four continents. For more information about CI, visit www.conservation.org.
Contacts: Steve Holmer, American Bird Conservancy, 202-234-7181, ext. 216 firstname.lastname@example.org, www.abcbirds.org
Paul Salaman, American Bird Conservancy, 540-253-5780, email@example.com
Diana Balcázar, Fundación ProAves, Colombia, 571-340-3261 or 571-340-3229, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.proaves.org