The eastern seaboard of Uruguay exhibits a chain of 5 coastal lagoons with very similar ecosystems, supporting globally important populations of migratory shorebirds that use the surrounding grasslands, wetlands and sandy areas, as well as the lagoon shores, as wintering areas. Relevant populations of Buff-breasted Sandpiper, American Golden Plover, Red Knot rufa population, White Rumped Sandpiper and Pectoral Sandpiper are regularly present in the Uruguayan eastern lagoons. These birds make long-distance migrations between the north of Alaska and Canada, where they rear their chicks, and the south of South America.
This region, covering almost 1,000,000 hectares, is under pressure by several factors: conventional agriculture, intensive livestock ranching, urbanization and recreational activities such as uncontrolled tourism. Our goal is to secure shorebird conservation in the long term by developing and empowering an integrative collaborative local conservation network with cattle ranchers and other key stakeholders taking direct action on habitat conservation and restoration.
Acting jointly with key stakeholders of the region, the management of the 5 lagoons will be integrated by creating local and regional working groups to reach local and cross-site management and conservation agreements. Primary actions will be conducted during a two-year project and will consist in the application of Best Management Practices in 40.000 hectares and habitat restoration in 200 hectares. The project includes WHSRN sites designations, shorebird population estimates and building of high resolution distribution maps, as well as the development of a citizen scientist group that safeguards habitat integrity for neotropical migrant shorebirds. Additional threat assessment will be performed to define the more urgent areas of conservation action for the longer term.
Finally, we will put together all the experience, contacts, and information to develop a regional plan for shorebird conservation for the lagoon belt upon project completion, to be published and delivered to the authorities and landowners as a roadmap for continuing conservation actions.
This project will be a significant contribution to the implementation of the Atlantic Flyway and the incipient Mid-Continental Flyaway, as well as other outstanding international, regional and national ongoing initiatives such as the Ramsar Convention, IBA Program, the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Grasslands Alliance and the management plans of the National Protected Areas System (SNAP).