Aug 13, 2019

Protecting the Bearded Wood-Partridge

Original watercolor: Dana Gardner
Original watercolor: Dana Gardner

-Bearded Wood-Partridge (Chivizcoyo is the common name in Mexico)

(Dendrortyx barbatus)

The Bearded Wood-Partridge is a chicken-like bird endemic to cloud and temperate forest areas of east-central Mexico. This speedy bird is distinguishable by its silvery blue neck and head and short slightly curved beak, which makes it a specialist in eating seeds, fruits, and insects! A fantastic seed distributor, the Bearded Wood-Partridge also feeds on beans and corn so it is actively persecuted by farmers.

Threats:

Due to fragmented habitats, Mexico could lose this endemic bird and its beautiful elaborate 15 minute songs and seed dispersion skills. The bird can be considered a pest to farmers. Therefore, it is important to help incentivize the protection of this bird to farmers and protect its remaining habitat in its small distribution areas in Mexico.

Protection Status:

The Bearded Wood-Partridge is decreasing in population due to fragmented habitats. There are 3,600 known mature adults still in existence, but the bird’s population has been vulnerable and declining for decades.

Status in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve:

Sierra Gorda’s WildLands Project Director, Roberto Pedraza R., has spotted these rare birds in at least 40 different places on our reserve. And GESG protects populations of this species in several of the private natures reserve we run within our SGBR, providing it a true haven.

Conservation in Our Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve:

As mentioned earlier, we protect this bird in our Network of Natural Reserves under the supervision of GESG. This bird is abundant in the temperate and cloud forests where they are protected and still have forest corredors. This is very different to other areas where the bird is found, such as neighboring states like Hidalgo, San Luís Potosí, and Veracruz, where the forests are fractionated and its populations are isolated.

Without a doubt, effectively protecting its habitat is the best method for protecting this species. Furthermore, we need more environmental education activities and ecotourism projects that relieve pressure on forests, like those in Ejido La Trinidad, Xilitla, in San Luis Potosí State.

Habits and Habitats:

The Bearded Wood-Partridge is a non-migratory bird, meaning it does not fly to seek other lands. This means that this bird is extremely susceptible to those who see them as year-round pests. The Bearded Wood-Partridge is a very elusive bird as it tends to hide in the forest understory. Because of the birds’ tendency to hide, research on its habits has been difficult to conduct. Little is known about the bird’s reproductive habits. The species currently experiences a fragmented distribution due to hunting and habitat loss.

References:

https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/bewpar1/overview

https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22679576/92819853

Eitniear, Jack. (2008). Observing the Bearded Wood Partridge: a rare and elusive species.

 

Jul 10, 2019

Youth Ecological Camp, Planet Earth Is Our Home

Poster to Join the Experience
Poster to Join the Experience

In May, 55 young people declared themselves stewards of Nature and the Planet after completing this educational experience about taking action for a healthy climate with staff of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG). They took the time to learn theory, have hands-on practical experience and have the opportunity to define their action plan as a coalition of students.

The first day began with Pati Ruiz Corzo, a globally recognized leader in conservation and the founding director of GESG, to talk about the origins of this regionwide citizens´ movement, the on-going conservation and community organizing required to protect the valuable wildlife that takes refuge in Querétaro, and to challenge the youth to think and feel throughout the next days about how they can help.  Integrating everyone into the activities that evening made it possible to connect with the objective of the gathering - to build an action plan with commitments that each group of students can commit to for the next year. 

The main part of the experience took place at the Tonatico Ranching School one hour from our headquarters.  The day of the camping trip included some sessions with experts in the field. Nature photographer Roberto Pedraza (GESG staffmember) gave a moving presentation about the wealth of ecosystems and biodiversity in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve and the threats it faces.  Over the course of the day, the young people had a dynamic mix of theory and practice, including the topics of (1.) awareness about healthy food production and consumption, (2.) cattle and agriculture based on the 10 principles for holistic nature-based management, (3.) what it means to define objectives, action plans, commitments and teamwork. 

Walking through the forest and work areas of the Ranch School was an eye opening experience for many, having been raised in the small urban environments where they were born.  Planting out a seed flat, turning fresh compost, interacting with farm animals and understanding the role they have in holistic management, eating fresh cut vegetables with people knowledgeable about the nutritional value, were all lifetime experiences for most of the students who participated.  We learned how most of the young adults have been exposed exclusively to conventional ranching - and they recognized how different and productive the landscape is under regenerative practices.

This first workshop was designed to reach young people active in the state of Querétaro, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda´s home state.  They came from different universities nd counties: the Technological University of San Juan del Rio, Jalpan Unit; Autonomous University of Querétaro; ITSRV of Rio Verde S.L.P.; and the counties of Arroyo Seco, Jalpan de Serra, Rio Blanco, and Peñamiller; and a few from the neighboring state of San Luis Potosí.

With further support we can equip these young people who will be living in semi-rural, semi-urban settings with the experiences, the curiousity and hopefully the skills that will continue to shape new possibilities for the future we want.

Field Trip to Ranch School Regenerative Practices
Field Trip to Ranch School Regenerative Practices
Vegetable Production Without Chemicals Session
Vegetable Production Without Chemicals Session
Theory and Practical Regenrative Ag and Forestry
Theory and Practical Regenrative Ag and Forestry
Nature Walk - Appreciation and Interpretation
Nature Walk - Appreciation and Interpretation

Links:

Jun 4, 2019

The Wildfire of May

Fire raging / El incendio
Fire raging / El incendio

 

 (Desplázase hacia abajo para ver el texto en español)

Dear Friends,

Welcome to our project to improve forest fire prevention and control in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve!

This project was prompted by a recent, devastating fire in the Sierra Gorda. Raging for three weeks, it affected over 3,250 hectares, home to endangered species such as jaguars, orchids, salamanders, margays, and ocelots. By destroying vegetation, the fire caused over 106,000 tons of CO2e to be released into the atmosphere.

Roberto Pedraza Ruiz writes, “The White-Fronted Parrot is one of the many endangered species affected by this big forest fire, especially considering that they were in the middle of their nesting season and had to leave their nests and chicks behind. They shared those forests with many other endangered species, from jaguar to margays, and the impact on biodiversity is difficult to measure.

The fire was probably provoked. It quickly got out of control and began to expand rapidly due to strong winds, high temperature, and dry forest conditions following a severe drought.

Many of the fire’s fronts were in remote and difficult to access areas. Federal funding cuts to the National Forestry Commission significantly limited federal firefighting resources. So although official firefighters, organized fire brigades, and volunteers all came together to combat the fire, it was only two weeks in that enough manpower was mobilized, including 7 helicopters, to finally control the blaze.

We are responding to this emergency to make sure that it does not repeat itself. We want to hire, equip, and organize local fire brigades to continually patrol the reserve, maintaining fire breaks and immediately responding to outbreaks. We cannot afford another such tragedy to hit the Sierra Gorda. Are you with us?

 

Estimados amigos,

¡Bienvenidos a nuestro proyecto para fortalecer a la prevención y combate a los incendios forestales en la Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra Gorda!

Este proyecto fue motivado por un reciente y devastador incendio en la Sierra Gorda. Durante tres semanas, afectó a más de 3.250 hectáreas, hogar de especies en peligro de extinción como jaguares, orquídeas, salamandras, márgenes y ocelotes. Al destruir la vegetación, el fuego provocó la liberación de más de 106,000 toneladas de CO2e a la atmósfera.

Roberto Pedraza Ruiz escribe: “El Loro Corona Blanca (Pionus senilis) es una de las muchas especies que fueron afectadas por el incendio, máxime ahora que se encuentran nidos activos y tuvieron que dejar ahí a sus pollos. Compartían esos bosques con ocelotes, margays, ajoles, salamandras, e incluso jaguares. El costo ambiental del incendio será difícil de evaluar y ponderar. El carbono emitido, ejemplares calcinados, las áreas donde la regeneración tomará años y las cadenas tróficas rotas es algo que no tiene fácil reparación. El tiempo dirá."

El incendio probablemente fue provocado. Se salió de control y comenzó a expandirse rápidamente debido a los fuertes vientos, las altas temperaturas y las condiciones del bosque seco después de una grave sequía.

Muchos de los frentes del incendio se encontraban en áreas remotas y de difícil acceso. Los recortes de fondos federales a la Comisión Nacional Forestal limitaron significativamente los recursos federales para combatir incendios. Por lo tanto, aunque bomberos oficiales, brigadas de bomberos organizados y voluntarios se juntaron para combatir el incendio, pasaron dos semanas para que se movilizara suficiente mano de obra, incluyendo a 7 helicópteros, para poder controlarlo.

Estamos respondiendo a esta emergencia para asegurarnos de que no se repita. Queremos contratar, equipar y organizar brigadas locales para patrullar continuamente la reserva, mantener las brechas de cortafuegos y responder de inmediato a los siniestros. No podemos permitir otra tragedia semejante en la Sierra Gorda. ¿Estás con nosotros?

Fire brigades working - Brigadas trabajando
Fire brigades working - Brigadas trabajando
Fighting the fire - Combatiendo el incendio
Fighting the fire - Combatiendo el incendio
What we are protecting - Lo que protegemos
What we are protecting - Lo que protegemos
White-Fronted Parrot - Loro Corona Blanca
White-Fronted Parrot - Loro Corona Blanca
 
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