Ensuring effective conservation for endangered grassland birds in Uruguay

Valeria Perez Guida

Uruguay has natural grasslands covering 71% of the country that currently face numerous threats to their conservation. The major threat to this habitat is the use of land for forestation, cattle grazing and agriculture. These grasslands are home to six globally threatened bird species and four near threatened species. Aves Uruguay (a BirdLife International affiliate) has been working for the past four years to develop Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and has identified 13 grasslands as IBAs, 4 of which are in the provinces of Río Negro and Paysandú. Private landowners are open to the idea of developing conservation activities on their land. The same can be said of the Ministry of Environment, which also owns a piece of land in Río Negro. Both private landowners and the Ministry are willing to sign agreements to this effect with Aves Uruguay. The team plans to work with local university students and community members living near proposed IBAs through the development of ecotourism activities in birdwatching, training local guides, lobbying and creating groups of volunteers to take care of the areas and monitor the species. The team will also develop educational activities at the primary and high school levels to make young people aware of conservation issues.