A ten-year reforestation and agroforestry project has resulted in the establishment of a critical conservation corridor in Colombia for the imperiled Cerulean Warbler.
The species was once one of the most abundant warblers in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. Now it’s one of the most imperiled migrant songbirds in the Western Hemisphere. Its population has plummeted 70 percent since 1966. The warbler spends the winter in South America, preferring the coffee-production areas of the northern Andes, and particularly the intermontane valleys of central Colombia, where the reforestation took place.
Nearly 3,000 acres of land was planted, creating a conservation corridor six miles long and half a mile wide between two areas of existing habitat southwest of Bucaramanga — the private 545-acre Cerulean Warbler Reserve, in newly created Yariguíes National Park, and the 4,470-acre Pauxi Pauxi Reserve, located on the Cerro de la Paz mountain. More than 220 private landowners participated, planting 500,000 seedling shade trees of 26 native species to increase shade on their farms and cattle ranches. The trees, chosen to promote more canopy cover, came from nurseries established in the two reserves.
Silvopasture practices — the planting of trees in otherwise open cattle pastures — were used to benefit the health of cattle and business productivity and to provide tree cover for birds. Eighteen conservation easements, the first in Colombia, were used to conserve remnant patches of native forest.
The reforestation is expected to benefit more than 150 species of birds, including such familiar, colorful migrants as Rose-breasted Grosbeak, American Redstart, and Golden-winged, Black-and-white, Mourning, Canada, Blackburnian, Black-throated Green, and Swainson’s Warblers.
A version of this article appeared in the August 2015 issue of BirdWatching magazine. Subscribe.
This story was provided by American Bird Conservancy, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization whose mission is to conserve native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas.
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