Project competition and Action plan for Wetlands

Implementation of protection activities through a competition between local NGO`s

Introduction
In the preceding phase of our Coastal Wetlands Initiative, an action plan was developed in a participatory fashion, encouraging cooperation between different stakeholders in Chile, Peru, and Ecuador in the conservation of coastal wetlands and shorebirds at the arid-semiarid coast of the South-American Pacific. This action plan provides a framework for coordinated conservation work among diverse stakeholders; it defines focus areas, strategies, activities, and specific goals for the conservation of wetlands, protection of shorebirds, and for networking on a regional level, involving stakeholders from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.  

To put this plan into action, we created a project competition, encouraging local non-profit organisations and universities to come up with their own ideas, put to good use their individual capacities, and implement any of the components of the action plan according to the needs for the protection of their local coastal wetland(s). 

The competition was launched on the occasion of the World Wetlands Day (02 of February 2019) through our dedicated new website www.humedalescosteros.org. Out of a total of 27 proposals we received, 6 projects have been selected by a committee of representatives from our supporting organizations and the Ministries of Environment from Chile, Peru, and Ecuador. Due to the quality result of the competition our foundation, together with the supporting partner Lighthouse Foundation, has selected 4 additional appealing projects for funding.  

Selected projects

Ecuador

Strengthening local capacities for participatory shorebird monitoring in mangrove areas in guardianship

Birds and Conservation (Aves y Conservación) is national BridLife partner with the mission of supporting the conservation of birds, their habitat, and biodiversity as a whole in Ecuador. As a very active and ambitious member of the international shorebird conservation community, it has designed and now pursues the implementation of the Conservation Plan for Shorebirds in Ecuador. The project concerns an important area for shorebird conservation with mangroves and extensive intertidal mudflats in a large estuarine region of the Gulf of Guayaquil. Building on previous efforts, 60 members of 3 local crap fisher associations will be trained to participate in long-term monitoring of the avifauna present in this area, particularly shorebirds, in order to observe changes in abundancy and richness of bird species.       

Peru

Strengthening research, governance and institutionality for the environmental management of the wetlands of the coast line of Pisco and San Andrés, Pisco
The civil association Bird Group of Peru (GAP) has one of the longest track records in research and conservation of birds in Peru. It is constituted by local working groups in different parts of the country, dedicated to protect birds in their natural habitats. The project combines different aspects of the Action Plan, focusing on the coastal wetlands of Pisco and San Andrés. Combining activities such as scientific field work and the design and dissemination of educative materials with workshops for decision makers and local interest groups, the goal of the project is to create knowledge and appreciation of these ecosystems and their biodiversity, and to work out a conservation management plan for these wetlands.

Getting to know our wetlands in the festivals of Peru´s northern coast
The Center of Ornithology and Biodiversity (CORBIDI) is a Peruvian NGO uniting some outstanding researchers from Peru and abroad with common interest in birds and biodiversity conservation. Their mission is to promote science and disseminate knowledge concerning threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems, conducting research and conservation work. Creating alliances with the public and private sector for cooperation in awareness raising campaigns, the project involves media campaigns, the realization of dedicated festivals, and the painting of murals devoted to shorebirds and coastal wetlands. The aim is to build consciousness, enhance appreciation, and create pride among the local population concerning coastal wetlands and their avifauna, generating the support for the Eten wetland to become a protected area and to improve governance of wetlands on the whole.  

The guardians of the wetlands
The University Científica del Sur, with more than 10 years of experience in teaching ecology and investigating wetlands, is conceived as one of the principal research institutes and producer of knowledge in relation to coastal wetlands in Peru. It has taken a key role in Peru´s first Wetland Congresses (2017 and 2019), making an important contribution to wetland conservation on the national level. The project takes an innovative approach to build capacities for continued research, monitoring, and environmental education; providing students from academic institutes in and around Lima with the opportunity to take part in a specially designed training course and to become official “Wetland Guardians”. Aiming to compose a group of 30 students from multiple areas of study certainly will provide for an interesting and high-quality training course, creating hopefully a powerful group of young professionals working in favour of wetland conservation.   

Chile 

Pichilemu coastal wetlands: moving towards conservation
The Center for Sustainable Development of Pichilemu (CEDESUS) is a local non-profit organization, promoting and supporting the protection and restoration of natural and cultural heritage around the small but touristic coastal fishing village of Pichilemu. Focusing on the wetlands Cahuil and Petrel within the municipality of Pichilemu, CEDESUS actively involves multiple stakeholders in scientific field work and monitoring, the development of an integrated conservation plan, and preparation of a dossier for the denomination of Cahuil as a Ramsar Site or Nature Sanctuary and recognition of Petrel as a priority site for conservation. 

Environmental enrichment and restoration for the protection and conservation of the Mantagua wetland
The Foundation for the Integration of the Natural and Cultural Heritage (FIPaNCu) unites young professionals with a keen interest in environmental conservation. Looking to enhance the appreciation of natural and cultural heritage, and to connect local communities with their environment in a socio-ecologically integrated fashion, the foundation seeks to support a sustainable equilibrium between human activities and nature on our planet. The project concerns the Mantagua wetland, embedded in a largely still undeveloped coastal stretch that is of priority for nature conservation. The activities concentrate on the recuperation and improvement of habitat through restoration of native vegetation, incorporating environmental education for school children, a range of workshops for community members, and the creation of a website dedicated to this natural area.

Water in the Desert
The Kennedy Foundation, established in Chile by the British expatriate P. Kennedy in 2004, focuses on conservation of wetlands and protection of water as a fundamental resource. The foundation leads conservation efforts in a number of important wetlands in Chile, actively promoting good governance, environmental education, research, and public awareness. This project concerns the small but important wetland La Chimba in the coastal town of Antofagasta. With the idea of observing the wetland under the magnifying glass and transforming it into an open-air laboratory, a comprehensive environmental education course has been developed in coordination with local schools and authorities, providing approx. 225 children with the opportunity to learn about our hydrosphere, aquatic ecosystems, and the influence that we, as humans, are taking on these systems.

Shorebird monitoring network to protect wetlands on Chile's semi-arid coast
The Network of Bird and Wildlife Observers of Chile (ROC) pursues the mission of protecting birds and wildlife in Chile through research, diffusion, citizen science, and environmental education, working with a group of ornithologist spread along Chile´s coast and an extensive network of volunteers. The project is aimed at the conservation of two emblematic resident shorebird species (H. palliates y C. nivosus) that have their nesting sites in sand dunes surrounding coastal wetlands, and thereby ultimately at the conservation of these highly threatened habitats in central and northern Chile. The approach consists in the creation of a monitoring programme and network for the reproduction of these birds, being implemented for 1 year in 6 local wetlands with the idea of expanding it to other sites in the future.  

E-Learning Course for Conservation of Coastal Wetlands and Shorebirds
The Chilean Foundation Núcleo Nativo was created in 2015 with the aim of strengthening the bond between humans and their environment, fostering socio-ecological equilibrium. In this context, the foundation´s conceptual pillars comprise entrepreneurship support for marginalized and vulnerable groups, environmental education, and protection and restauration of the natural environment. The project consists in the creation and distribution of a specially tailored e-learning course for conservation of coastal wetlands and shorebirds in Chile, with the potential to extend its application to the entire region embraced by this initiative. It will be based on different aspects, depths, and areas of relevant knowledge, making it accessible and effective for people from distinct backgrounds, highlighting the importance of coastal wetlands and empowering local communities to take the necessary steps for their protection.      

Regional

Analysis and strengthening governance related to coastal wetlands
The University of Nottingham-Chile is a foundation created by the British University in order to facilitate collaborative research with partner organizations in Chile and to support development in Chile and across South America. The project embraces governance of coastal wetland as the central topic, focusing on the pertaining regulations in Chile, Peru and Ecuador. Analysing and comparing the regulatory framework, the aim is to identify gaps, to make some recommendations for improvements, and to assess the compatibility for governance of coastal wetlands in the 3 countries; resuming the respective instruments in a “legal toolbox” for conservation of coastal wetlands on the regional scale.