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Conserving Birds of the Americas

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Why Birds?
Throughout the Western Hemisphere, birds comprise one of the most important biological, cultural, and economic resources. In the United States, over 75 million Americans take part in feeding, photographing, hunting, and watching birds. Wildlife watching, which includes bird watching contributes over $38 billion in annual economic activity. For many indigenous peoples in the Americas, birds play a significant role in sustaining their cultural traditions.

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Migratory Birds of North America

Migratory Species Face Threat
Of the 850 bird species in North America, more than 300 of them spend the summer in the United States and they winter in Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. While most bird species are declining, migratory species are of special concern because they inhabit a variety of ecosystems that have been declining across the Western Hemisphere. The greatest threat to neotropical migratory birds is tropical deforestation, totaling a loss of 7.5 million hectares of rainforests in Latin America and the Caribbean every year. Another significant threat is the loss and fragmentation of forest and grassland habitats in the United States, Canada and Mexico over the past decades. Other threats include gas development, wildfire, invasive species, loss of wetlands and pesticides.

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Threats to Migratory Birds

International Programs is Helping
Addressing these threats requires collaboration by all the countries where the migratory species go. The US Forest Service International Programs strengthens migratory species conservation, linking agency experts with counterparts overseas to improve migratory bird habitat and to sustain these important species that migrate to and from the US. Our collaborative work emphasizes:

1. Degraded habitats and habitats most at risk;
2. Species populations that are significantly declining or at serious risk;
3. Opportunities to form new and more effective conservation partnerships; and

4. International need for the expertise of the over 30,000 US Forest Service conservation professionals.

Please download our entire PowerPoint presentation, "People, Wings and Forests: Conserving Birds of the Americas" (922 KB). If your computer is unable to support the size of the presentation, please view Part 1 and Part 2 as an alternative.

Our presentation tells the story of migratory birds in the Western Hemisphere- why they are so important, the threats to their survival, and how International Programs and its partners are helping to conserve them.

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Other Conservation Initiatives:

A) The Canada / Mexico / United States Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management
The Canada / Mexico / United States Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management consists of the Director General of the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Chief of the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales or the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries of Mexico, and the Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who heads the U.S. Delegation. Established to increase the effectiveness of species and habitat conservation in North America, the committee holds annual meetings at which major North American conservation issues are discussed. Through the creation and implementation of programs and projects, the Trilateral Committee coordinates species and ecosystem conservation activities in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The programs focus on scientific research, sustainable land use practices, law enforcement and other conservation tactics.

Among the international organizations involved in the Trilateral Committee efforts is the US Forest Service International Programs, which is part of the U.S. delegation and serves as a primary cooperator and partner in implementing cooperative projects in Canada and Mexico.

Collaborating Organizations:

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B) North American Bird Conservation Initiative
Human activity is altering the habitat, including the nesting grounds, of many migratory birds in North America-so much that some are highly imperiled. To stop this downward spiral, we must protect the ecosystems they depend on throughout their entire migratory range. Since numerous species are shared by Canada, the United States, and Mexico, only collaborative conservation efforts among these countries can sustain these special species.

The vision of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI) is landscape-oriented, regionally base, biologically driven integrated all bird conservation. The goal is to coordinate bird conservation strategies throughout North America by organizing the international efforts of the four main bird plans:

International support of NABCI will generate more resources, financial as well as human, to conserve North American migratory bird habitats, than would be possible from one country alone. By promoting international cooperation, the involved countries of NABCI are able to work more efficiently and effectively to protect the birds and their habitats.

The US Forest Service International Programs co-chairs the Federal Sub-Committee and represents the US Forest Service and other Federal Agencies on the US North American Bird Conservation Initiative Committee.

Collaborating Organizations:

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C) Copper River International Migratory Bird Initiative

The Copper River Delta on Chugach National Forest is the largest Pacific coastal wetland in North America. It is one of the most important migratory bird habitats on the Continent. Over five million shorebirds stopover on the Delta each year on their migration to Mexico, Central and South America. The Delta is designated a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network Hemispheric site - the most important shorebird sites in the world.

The Initiative connects partners and shorebird sites in the Americas to protect and enhance shorebird habitats and sustain shorebird populations. Partners include the:

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D) Taking Wing
The Forest Service has expanded its Taking Wing migratory bird conservation program to help emphasize implementation of all four North American migratory bird plans as well as include all four divisions of the Forest Service: National Forest System, State and Private Forestry, other national programs? And Research and Development. Forest Service personnel expertise is now focused more on collaborative conservation of migratory birds at home but also in other nations. Personnel provide key skills and experience in other countries that are strengthening their bird conservation and multiple use management. The new Taking Wing will address all the needs of bird species by focusing on conservation priorities throughout the bird ranges and across property and international boundaries.

Partners include:

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E) Western Boreal Forest Initiative
Covering nearly two thirds of Canada, the Boreal Forest with its millions of acres of forested wetlands is home to billions of migratory birds, including twenty-three species of ducks. The Boreal Forest is the source of as many as five billion landbirds, with more than one half of the world's populations of over 40 species. Up to 40% of North America's waterfowl use the part of the Boreal forest alone. Currently, the Boreal Forest in Western Canada is being gradually altered by natural resource extraction, agricultural growth, and other activities. In response to this increased activity, Ducks Unlimited Canada created the Western Boreal Forest Initiative to investigate the effects of such human activity on the forest, its wetlands and the migratory birds it supports.

Through the Western Boreal Forest Initiative, scientists are learning more about this vast ecosystem and its ecology. Specifically, scientists are studying wetland ecology, wetland resources and particularly migratory bird needs of the area. Finally, scientists want to obtain a clearer sense of how human activity in the area is affecting the wetlands-especially the migratory birds they support. With greater understanding of how human activity is affecting the migratory bird habitats, more effective actions can be taken towards the conservation of the birds. The goal is to determine how the biodiversity and productivity of the region including migratory birds can be sustained and protected while land-use practices continue.

The US Forest Service International Programs is one of the primary partners in this Western Boreal Forest Initiative.

Collaborating Organizations:

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