Partnerships and conservation: how is ENCA developing in Chile?

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In January, we celebrated the second anniversary of the official launch of the National Bird Conservation Strategy in Chile (ENCAChile), an unprecedented collaborative platform composed of eight public services, eight NGOs, and nine research centers. The goal of this collaboration is to strengthen the conservation of birds and their habitats in the country.

Together with these 24 institutions, Audubon is sharing its strategic vision, funding, and experience as a member of the Board of Directors, the Public Policy Working Group, and as a facilitator of the Funding Working Group. In addition, along with the Ministry of the Environment, Audubon is coordinating the development of Action Plans for the Conservation of Seabirds and Wetlands and is part of the driving group for the Shorebird Conservation Action Plan[1].

The Strategy has made notable progress in these two years. In addition to officializing this inter-institutional collaborative platform (the implementation committee), a national bird monitoring program has been created in Chile; sites of importance for marine and coastal birds have been identified and prioritized: and the incorporation of the most threatened birds into the evaluation of their conservation status is being strongly supported. Other accomplishments so far include an analysis of gaps and opportunities to strengthen public policies, a financial plan, a market analysis of bird tourism in Chile, and the formalization of the action plan for the conservation of shorebirds in Chile. Reports with observations and suggestions for the sustainable development of wind energy in Chile have also been created, as well as many other actions.

With a strong commitment to promoting birdwatching in the country and aligned with ENCAChile’s goal of strengthening this area[2], one of Audubon’s major contributions to the implementation of the Strategy is funding and developing the first birdwatching market analysis in the country, along with Fernweh Consulting. This analysis has made it possible to assess the size of this market in Chile, and the comparative advantages of the country, and to profile Chilean and foreign birdwatchers according to their preferences, frequency of trips, and budget. For example, today we know that in Chile the specialized birdwatching market generates $62.6 million a year and that the foreign birdwatcher, on average, spends 6.5 times more individually than the average foreign tourist.

Audubon is developing the Training Course for Naturalist Birdwatching Guides, carried out together with Fundación Legado Chile, Birds Chile, and the ROC (Bird and Wildlife Observers Network of Chile) to extend its impact to local communities. This initiative seeks to train 31 birding guides in three regions—Valparaíso, Bíobío, and La Araucanía—contributing to the conservation of biocultural heritage and promoting local economic development.

Audubon also leads the Financing Working Group, which oversees estimating the implementation investment and determining financing mechanisms for the ENCA. This analysis and the financial plan[3] revealed a key finding: the Strategy has a very positive cost-benefit ratio. In other words, investing in the implementation of this strategy is convenient, and it will be highly beneficial not only for bird conservation but also for biodiversity conservation in the country.

In these two years of implementation, Audubon’s work along with other institutions has led to the creation of two important documents that aim to strengthen bird conservation in the national territory. The first of these is the Public Policy Gap Analysis, which sought to visualize opportunities for the implementation of 15 actions[4] related to the strengthening of ENCAChile’s public policies (for example, incorporating the Strategy, birds, and their habitats in the Strategic Environmental Assessment of Territorial Planning Instruments). As such, an opportunity was visualized in the creation of the regulations of the new Biodiversity and Protected Areas Service, to integrate the Strategy and its actions into the regulatory framework.

The second document is the Spatial Analysis to identify Key Biodiversity Areas (KBA) of Shorebirds and Seabirds in Chile, which identified 245 of these sites in the country. This analysis and document is an enormous advancement and offers great input for one of the most important actions of the strategy[5]: to identify and prioritize sites of importance for birds in Chile.

The development and implementation of ENCAChile has a strong participatory focus. More than 2,200 people participated in its development. Sixty-five people have already been actively and directly involved in its implementation; more than 60 people attended the launch of the committee; more than 40 people have participated in the training of local guides in birdwatching; and macro-zonal workshops have been held in the framework of the work with shorebirds and seabirds, in which more than 200 people have participated.

This way, in its implementation, the Strategy integrates human well-being transversally. This is because we are convinced that biodiversity conservation and development are not at odds. On the contrary, they share a common path where natural ecosystems are fundamental in achieving sustainable development.

We firmly believe that by promoting the conservation of birds and their natural habitats, we are protecting present and future generations. Audubon celebrates these advances and looks forward to continuing to strengthen this great alliance with NGOs, public organizations, and research centers.

[1]  Bird Strategy Action 17: Develop action plans for groups of birds requiring site-specific management and planning.
[2]  Bird Strategy Action 14: Promote bird tourism in Chile.
[3]   Bird Strategy Action 15: Develop a financial and business plan for the Strategy.
[4]   Bird Strategy Actions: 8-10; 33-44.
[5]   Bird Strategy Action 1: Identify and prioritize sites of importance for these species in Chile.

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