Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network

WHSRNews: September 2017 (in full)

In this issue: 27 September 2017
  • Atlantic Coast Reserve of Tierra del Fuego saved from Sand-mining Threat
  • Building Capacity in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina
  • The International Shorebird Survey reports shorebirds arriving at WHSRN sites in South America!
  • Garry Donaldson designated as new Councilor Emeritus


Atlantic Coast Reserve of Tierra del Fuego saved from Sand-mining Threat



Shorebirds in the Atlantic Coast Reserve, Tierra del Fuego. Photo by Jan van de Kam.


The Reserva Costa Atlántica de Tierra del Fuego (Atlantic Coast Reserve of Tierra del Fuego), Argentina, is a 220 km long coastal strip, just 180 km to the north of Cape Horn. In December 1992 it was designated as a WHSRN Site of Hemispheric Importance, due to it holding 42% of the global population of Hudsonian Godwits (Limosa haemastica) and 13.7% of the rufa subspecies of Red Knots (Calidris canutus). The area also holds significant numbers of White-rumped Sandpipers (Calidris fuscicollis) and Patagonian-breeding species such as Rufous-chested Dotterel (Charadrius modestus), Two-banded Plover (Charadrius falklandicus), and the globally Near Threatened Magellanic Plover (Pluvianellus socialis).

But the reserve is perhaps best known as the wintering site for B95 (or “Moonbird”), the world’s most famous Red Knot that was originally banded near the city of Rio Grande in February 1995. In December 2012, B95 was named as “Embajador Natural de la ciudad de Río Grande” (Natural Ambassador of the city of Río Grande).

Recently, WHSRN partners were concerned to see a bill of law proposed to change the limits of the reserve. If approved, the law would split the reserve in three parts, allowing sand mining to be developed in the two intermediate areas. Sand mining is an important economic activity in the area, and essential to the local construction industry. However, a recent assessment conducted for the provincial Secretariat of Mining recommended mining should not occur in coastal areas, and proposed alternative areas inland. In fact, the city of Rio Grande is already suffering alarming coastal erosion as a result of historical sand mining activities. If passed, the bill of law would also set a worrying precedent in terms of modifying the limits of a protected area.



A sand-mining operation in action. Photo by Tabaré Barreto.


After concerns were expressed by a wide variety of local, national and international stakeholders, the Provincial Legislature sent the bill of law to the Natural Resources Commission (Commission No. 3), and sought technical input from the “Mesa Técnica para la gestión de la Reserva Costa Atlántica de Tierra del Fuego” (a technical working group for the management of the reserve) that was created following a good governance workshop facilitated by Diego Luna (WHSRN Executive Office) in December 2016. The working group strongly recommended maintaining the integrity of the reserve, and developing sand mines at inland locations (after the completion of environmental impact assessments). The group also highlighted the importance of developing an integrated coastal management plan for the province, and a coastal mitigation plan for those coastal areas where sand has previously been mined.

We’re pleased to be able to report that following the input from the technical working group and the multiple expressions of concern, the Provincial Legislature decided to withdraw the bill of law. Furthermore, the debate over the future of the protected area has helped raise awareness of its importance, and strengthened the technical working group as a good governance mechanism for the reserve.


Building Capacity in Brazil, Chile, and Argentina



Participants in a Conflict Strategy Workshop in Porto Alegre, Brasil. Photo by Diego Luna Quevedo.


In the last weeks of August and early weeks of September, the WHSRN Executive Office led three different workshops in the Southern Cone region of South America. Facilitated by WHSRN Conservation Specialist Diego Luna Quevedo, these workshops were meant to build local capacity for shorebird conservation and habitat management in Brazil, Chile and Argentina.

With the help of our partners at SAVE Brazil, the first workshop took place on August 22nd in Porto Alegre. This workshop focused on strategies to manage social and environmental conflicts at Lagoa de Peixe, a national park and WHSRN site of International Importance. Participants were given a conceptual framework to help analyze the challenges facing the Park, and together designed a collaborative action strategy to address these conflicts. Participants included representatives of NGOs, universities, and research centers, the Chico Mendes Institute for the Conservation of Biodiversity (known by its Portuguese acronym ICMBio), and staff and leadership from the National Park, among others.



Participants in a Good Governance Workshop in Quellón, Chiloé. Photo by Diego Luna Quevedo.


In the days following the workshop, Quevedo traveled with Juliana Bosi de Almeida, Project Manager at SAVE Brazil, to visit the park and begin conversations with cattle ranchers in the area whose pastures provide important habitat for shorebirds. This work is part of a collaborative project between WHSRN and SAVE Brazil, made possible by support from the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA).

In addition to the workshops in Brazil, Quevedo led two workshops on good governance, one in Chile and the other in Argentina. The first was held on August 30th and focused on the wetlands of Quellón in Chiloé, including the sub-sites of Huildad and Yaldad. These areas are part of the Migratory Shorebird Conservation Plan for Chiloé, which is being carried out thanks to the support of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. This workshop was co-organized with our partners at the Center for the Study and Conservation of Natural Heritage (CECPAN) and the municipality of Quellón. A wide range of partners participated in this opportunity, from local organizations and indigenous leaders to municipal officials and tour operators. The workshop strengthened their capacity to lay the groundwork for good governance on a local level.



Participants in a Good Governance Workshop in San Antonio, Argentina. Photo by Diego Luna Quevedo.


The second of these governance workshops was held on the 11th and 12th of September in West San Antonio, in Argentine Patagonia. It was co-organized with our partners at the Inalafquen Foundation, the municipality of San Antonio, and the Environment and Sustainable Development Secretary for the province of Río Negro. The workshop concentrated on action proposals to enable improved governance in the Bahía San Antonio Natural Protected Area. San Antonio Bay is a critical site for shorebirds, especially Calidris canutus rufa, the endangered subspecies of Red Knot. Many key actors joined the workshop, contributing knowledge of the area and direct interest in the conservation of this WHSRN site. Participants included ministers, secretaries, and councilors from the municipality, NGOs, research centers, universities, tour operators, social outreach professionals and local leaders.

As a product of the workshops in Chile and Argentina, participants collaborated to create a “Governance Action Plan” to strengthen the management and conservation of these critical sites for shorebirds in the Southern Cone.

For more information, contact Diego Luna Quevedo, Conservation Specialist, WHSRN Executive Office: diego.luna@manomet.org


The International Shorebird Survey reports shorebirds arriving at WHSRN sites in South America!



Sanderlings at San Pedro de Vice. Photo by F. Suarez.


In 1974, Manomet launched the volunteer-based International Shorebird Survey (ISS) to gather information on shorebirds and the habitats they depend on. The data gathered to date have been fundamental for population size and trend analyses, and comprise the principle data source to document wide-scale trends in shorebird populations. ISS data and surveys were integral to the creation of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), and are frequently used to support the nomination of new sites. ISS data are also key to understanding the state of designated WHSRN sites and help inform management decisions.

ISS is focused on monitoring shorebirds during their post- and pre-breeding migration. The 2017-18 migration season is now underway, and the first Nearctic shorebirds have begun arriving in South America. Several WHSRN sites have already reported shorebird observations through ISS. At Manglares de San Pedro de Vice in Peru, a WHSRN Site of Regional Importance, Frank Suarez and his team have already counted over 300 Sanderlings (Calidris alba) and 100 Semipalmated Plovers (Charadrius semipalmatus).



ISS monitoring at Asunción Bay, Paraguay. Photo by J. Sarubbi.


Miguel Durando and Hugo Giraudo reported the first arrival of Wilson’s Phalaropes (Phalaropus tricolor) and Baird’s Sandpipers (Calidris bairdii) at Laguna Mar Chiquita, a WHSRN site of Hemispheric Importance in Argentina. Also in Argentina, German Montero and colleagues reported a total of 14 species of shorebirds at the Estuario del Río Gallegos (a WHSRN site of International Importance), including five Nearctic species and a count of over 2000 Two-banded Plovers (Charadrius falklandicus), an Austral migrant.

ISS surveys began in late August in Paraguay, at Bahía de Asunción. Observations included the first arriving American Golden Plovers (Pluvialis dominica) and Pectoral Sandpipers (Calidris melanotos), and an early Baird’s Sandpiper. Bahía de Asunción was designated a WHSRN site of Regional Importance due to holding more than 1% of the global population of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Calidris subruficollis), but significant habitat alterations have resulted in a marked decline in numbers of the species using the site. ISS data have documented this trend, and are being used to help plan habitat restoration activities.



Shorebirds at low tide in the San Pedro de Vice mangrove. Photo by F. Suarez.


In Brazil, where Juliana de Almeida of SAVE Brasil coordinates ISS, the International WHSRN site Lagoa do Peixe has been conducting bi-weekly surveys and will soon be sharing the data with the ISS database, including data from past years. The ISS protocol is also being used to survey shorebirds at several other coastal sites, including a location within the Hemispheric WHSRN Site Reentrancias Maranhenses, which will begin surveys for ISS this October and November.

With the migration season just starting in South America, there is still time for other WHSRN sites to start conducting regular shorebird monitoring using the ISS protocol. The data gathered are crucial for both understanding global population trends and for informing habitat management on the ground.

For more information on ISS in South America visit The International Shorebird Survey or contact Arne Lesterhuis Alesterhuis@manomet.org, or specifically for Brazil, Juliana Almeida, Project Manager, SAVE Brasil juliana.almeida@savebrasil.org.br


Garry Donaldson designated as new Councilor Emeritus



Garry Donaldson presents a 30th Anniversary Certificate to Nature Conservancy Canada on World Shorebirds Day. Photo by Becky Whittam.


WHSRN’s work to conserve shorebird species and their habitats across the Americas is guided by an advisory body, the Hemispheric Council, which is made up of representatives of WHSRN’s key partners. Former Council members who have made a particularly distinguished contribution to the development and implementation of WHSRN may be designated as Councilors emeriti. This is an honorary position for life, with Councilors emeriti strongly encouraged to contribute to Council discussions and business (though such members are not eligible to vote).

Until recently, just three Councilors emeriti had been designated by Hemispheric Council: Enrique Bucher (Argentina), George Finney (Canada) and Steve Wendt (Canada). Now the Hemispheric Council is delighted to be able to designate a fourth, Garry Donaldson of the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS).

Garry first joined the WHSRN Hemispheric Council in 2007 as a representative of the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and Canadian Shorebird Conservation Plan (of which he was the lead author). He attended WHSRN council meetings prior to that in a supportive role as Canadian Shorebird Coordinator. In addition to providing technical and policy advice to the WHSRN Executive Office on a wide range of shorebird species and site conservation issues, as a Council member Garry consistently championed efforts that contributed to the implementation of the WHSRN strategy.

In 2014, Garry moved from the CWS National Office to the Atlantic Region in Sackville, New Brunswick. His role on the WHSRN Council was taken by Silke Neve and then Cynthia Pekarik, but Garry has continued to actively promote efforts in support of WHSRN. This has included leadership of a project funded by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation to promote community-based conservation at important habitats for Red Knot (Calidris canutus) and Semipalmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla). Most recently, on World Shorebirds Day, Garry presented The Nature Conservancy of Canada with a certificate celebrating the 30th anniversary of the designation of the New Brunswick part of the upper Bay of Fundy as a WHSRN Site of Hemispheric Importance (the second site to join the network!).

Please join the WHSRN Hemispheric Council and Executive Office in welcoming Garry to his new role with WHSRN.

For more information, please contact Rob Clay (rclay@manomet.org).