New Study Pinpoints Epicenters of Earth’s
Groups Rally to Safeguard Hundreds of Imperiled Species
The Honduran Emerald, an AZE species found only in the Río Aguán Valley, Honduras. Photo ©Paul House.
American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is joining conservation groups around the world to help stave off an imminent extinction crisis. New research, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that safeguarding 595 sites would save hundreds of Earth’s species.
Conducted by scientists working with the 52 organizations of the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE), of which ABC is a leading member, the study identifies 794 species of bird, mammal, amphibian, reptile and conifer threatened with imminent extinction. Each species is in need of urgent conservation action at a single remaining site on Earth.
The study found that just one-third of these sites are known to have legal protection, and most are surrounded by human population densities that are approximately three times the global average. Conserving these 595 sites should be an urgent global priority involving everyone from national governments to local communities, the study’s authors state.
ABC led in identifying the AZE bird sites in the Americas, and is currently involved in conservation projects with partners at 19 of the 88 AZE bird-triggered sites in the region. For example, in the past year ABC has helped partner groups in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru purchase more than 20,000 acres to create five new private bird reserves, and expand five others for AZE species. These species include the colorful puffleg, blue-billed curassow, long-whiskered owlet, jocotoco antpitta, and pale-headed brush-finch. ABC is also involved in ongoing work to protect the Juan Fernández Firecrown and the Honduran Emerald, two spectacular hummingbirds (pictured right and above) and is beginning a new project to save valuable habitat for the Worthen's Sparrow in Mexico, under threat from intensive agriculture.
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The Juan Fernández Firecrown, found only on the Juan Fernández Islands, Chile. Photo ©Juan Fernández Islands Conservancy
The United States ranks among the ten countries with the most sites. These include Torrey Pines in California, a cave in West Virginia, a pond in Mississippi, and six sites in Hawaii. The Whooping Crane and the recently rediscovered Ivory-billed Woodpecker are two spectacular American bird species that qualify for inclusion. Particular concentrations of sites are also found in the Andes of South America, in Brazil’s Atlantic Forests, throughout the Caribbean, and in Madagascar.
The Worthen's Sparrow , an AZE species found only in the Saltillo Savanna, Mexico. Photo © Ray Bieber
“Although saving sites and species is vitally important in itself, this is about much more,” said American Bird Conservancy’s Mike Parr, who acts as the Secretary of AZE. “At stake are the future genetic diversity of Earth’s ecosystems, the global ecotourism economy worth billions of dollars per year, and the incalculable benefit of clean water from hundreds of key watersheds. This is a one-shot deal for the human race,” he added. “We have a moral obligation to act. The science is in, and we are almost out of time.”
Also published today are a site map and a report that details the actions required to save these sites and species. These items, along with a searchable database of sites, web links for the Alliance’s 52 membe
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