Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences – Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHRSN)
Centro Universitario Regional del Este (CURE) – University of the Republic
Grasslands Alliance (Alianza del Pastizal)
Project summary: The eastern seaboard of Uruguay exhibits a series of 5 coastal lagoons with similar ecosystems and host globally significant populations of migratory shorebirds that use the surrounding grasslands, wetlands and dunes as their wintering areas. Birds like the Buff-breasted sandpiper (Calidris subruficollis), the American golden plover (Pluvialis dominica), the Red knot (Calidris canutus), the White-rumped sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis) and the Pectoral sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) are frequently observed in the lagoons. These birds make long-distance migrations between the north of Alaska and Canada, where they breed and rear their young, and the south of South America.
American Golden plover (Pluvialis dominica)
Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Calidris subruficollis)
This region, comprising almost one million hectares, is under pressure from several sources: conventional agriculture, intensive livestock raising, urbanization and uncontrolled recreational activities like tourism. The project objective was to ensure the conservation of these shorebirds in the long term by developing an integrative conservation network, with livestock producers and other key stakeholders of the lagoons and carrying out direct action to promote the conservation and regeneration of their habitats.
Together with key stakeholders, the project integrated the management of the 5 lagoons, creating local and regional working groups to reach local and coordinated management and conservation agreements. The project’s main actions had a duration of 30 months which included the design and dissemination of a Best Practices Manual for 40,000 hectares.
Results – We identified and characterized shorebird habitat management in over 60 ranches.
– 4 workshops were carried out (1 per lagoon including a joint workshop for the José Ignacio and Garzón lagoons) and one global meeting with the landowners, livestock producers and government agencies of the 5 lagoons to create a working group to identify key actions to improve the quality of shorebird habitats in the coastal lagoons.
– We pinpointed actions that are beneficial both to conservation and livestock production, and we agreed general guidelines with ranch owners for a healthy management of shorebird habitats.
– We assessed the impact of kitesurfing and other recreational activities on shorebirds.
– We monitored populations of Calidris subruficollis and Pluvialis dominica throughout the lagoon belt with a view to designating the region as a WHSRN landscape.
– Satellite transmitters were placed on captured birds to assess the space-time use of the coastal lagoons by both species.
– 4 workshops were carried out to train volunteers in citizen science and strengthen the capacity of local communities in the identification and follow-up of shorebirds.
We are very pleased with the project results. In addition to complying with its specific objectives, it has contributed to raise awareness of the huge conservation value of the productive lands of the lagoons and to strengthening the ties between producers. The follow-up to this proyect will begin soon, focusing on intensive work with 20 producers to implement best practices for the conservation of grassland migratory shorebirds.