July 1, 2012
The threatened Tucuman Parrot will benefit from land just purchased by Asociación Armonía with the support of WLT-US to establish the 44-acre Tucuman Parrot Reserve. The new reserve protects the largest Podocarpus conifer trees in the area, which are vitally important as nesting sites for the parrot. The strategic purchase of this forest came as a local sawmill was attempting to gain logging rights to the land, so our decisive actions came just in time.
With the support of WLT-US and Gulf Coast Bird Observatory’s Tropical Forest Forever Fund, Asociación Armonía has purchased and protected 44 acres of critical breeding habitat for the threatened Tucuman Parrot in Bolivia. Asociación Armonía has been working with the Quirusillas community in the department of Santa Cruz since 2010 to raise awareness of the plight of the threatened Tucuman Parrot and provide alternatives to logging that are consistent with sustaining and restoring local ecosystems. These activities include educational programs in local schools, developing honey production businesses, and working with women to develop handicrafts and increase their participation in community decision-making.
Significant progress has been made. In 2009, the Tucuman Parrot was recognized as a natural heritage symbol of Quirusillas and is now included as the central figure in the municipal coat of arms. In addition, the mayor of Quirusillas signed a declaration in support of the ban on capture and trade of the Tucuman Parrot.
"Establishing this reserve is one of several strategies we are implementing to prevent the extinction of the Tucuman Parrot in this region. We are also planning to erect artificial nest boxes to increase breeding opportunities for the species and to attract tourists to this reserve. Bringing tourism dollars to the area would provide a stronger incentive for the community to continue to implement environmental protection measures,” said Bennett Hennessey, Executive Director of Armonía.
The Tucuman Parrot is endemic to the Southern Yungas eco-region, a narrow strip of cloud forest on the east slope of the Andes in southeastern Bolivia and northwestern Argentina. There are two main threats to the Tucuman Parrot: habitat loss and the pet trade. The cloud forest that characterizes the parrot’s natural habitat is now greatly diminished and degraded due to selective logging, which removes the largest trees parrots require for nesting as well as cattle grazing and agriculture. The illegal capture of the Tucuman Parrot has declined since its peak in the 1980s but remains a major threat. Capturing these parrots for the pet trade often results in the destruction of the nesting tree, reducing potential reproduction efforts for future generations. As a result, the global population of the Tucuman has declined by 75% in the last three decades, and the species is now listed as vulnerable to extinction by BirdLife International.
The parrot nestlings’ diet is composed almost entirely of the cones and seeds of a local conifer, called “pino de cerro” (Podocarpus parlatorei), which is becoming scarce at a global level because of logging. Currently, a local sawmill is attempting to gain logging rights to areas in the vicinity of the new reserve. If they succeed, this reserve will be the last nesting location of this threatened bird in this region. So there is an urgent need to expand the new reserve. Also the new reserve is adjacent to the Quirusillas Municipal Reserve, effectively extending the area under protection.
The creation of the reserve was made possible with the help of WLT-US and the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory’s Tropical Forest Forever Fund. Additional support has been received from the Conservation Leadership Program, The Whitley Awards Foundation, and Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation.