We Go Where Birds Go

Colombia is a major biodiversity hotspot in the Americas, and the successful work we do there can serve as a model for effective conservation across the Western Hemisphere.
Six black and white ducks with pink beaks with wings spread out land in an agricultural field in Colombia.
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks take advantage of the habitat benefits created by crop rotation on fields in Colombia. Photo: Nick Athanas/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA)

As summer winds down and many of the birds that breed in the Arctic and across North America are beginning their journeys south into the Caribbean and Latin America, I have been thinking about how our hemispheric approach to bird conservation—one of the main drivers of our new strategic plan—directs us to work where birds need us the most. Given that most vulnerable bird species found in the United States spend the majority of their lives in Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean, Audubon works transparently and creatively across borders, bringing together partners from the public, nonprofit, and private sectors to halt and ultimately reverse the precipitous decline of birds across the Americas.

One way that we are doing this is by deploying a new model for effective cross-border partnerships and collaboration, demonstrated by our efforts in Colombia. We worked with Colombian colleagues at the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute, the National Birdwatchers Network, and Colombia’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development to create Estrategia Nacional para la Conservación de las Aves 2030 (ENCA 2030), also known as the National Strategy for the Conservation of Birds 2030.

Audubon works transparently and creatively across borders.

ENCA 2030 elevates bird conservation by building it into the country’s economic development and sustainability goals to respond directly to global climate change and the biodiversity crisis. The strategy focuses on forests, savannas, agricultural lands, and coastal, freshwater, island, and urban habitats. It addresses the needs of people and the nearly 2,000 bird species found in Colombia, including the 113 at risk of extinction and the many more that are threatened by habitat loss and climate change.

Developed through an inclusive process, ENCA 2030 combines conservation needs with economic progress, social development, climate mitigation, and water, energy, and food security. Over the past two years, we engaged more than 2,000 participants from sectors such as agricultural and energy industries, academic and scientific researchers, government agencies at the local and federal levels, and local communities, including Indigenous, Afro-Colombian, and campesino communities. They contributed valuable input that shaped our thinking and strategies on climate change threats, market-based solutions, and conservation targets. We are now moving forward with a similar process in Chile.

Audubon is leading this transformative work, and you are leading right alongside us. With our partners, network of volunteers and chapters, breakthrough science, and commitment to equitable conservation, we are confident that we will achieve meaningful outcomes for people, birds, and our planet.

This piece originally ran in the Fall 2023 issue. To receive our print magazine, become a member by making a donation today.