PROJECT BACKGROUND: The Important Bird Areas (IBA) program is an international effort, with a global network of more than 12,000 IBAs identified in 200 countries, that exists to identify and encourage voluntary protection of critical habitat for birds throughout their annual lifecycle — breeding, migration, wintering.
In Wisconsin, there are 93 IBAs, and the program is coordinated by the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative (WBCI), a coalition of 180 organizations dedicated to conserving birds.
To date, WBCI’s IBA-related efforts have focused exclusively on identification and designation of new areas. While this is an important first step, WBCI recognizes that proactive coordination will be critical for conservation efforts within IBAs to reach their full potential. Statewide coordination for 93 diverse IBAs would need to be well-defined and focused.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The goal of this project is to develop a process (e.g. Threats & Opportunities Matrix) for assessing and prioritizing Wisconsin IBAs based on a range of criteria. Data collection and analysis will include: 1) a general assessment of the conservation values of each existing IBA, 2) defining the short- and long-term threats to habitat loss and degradation and their potential resilience in the face of climate change, and 3) contacting local stakeholders to assess the human capital and local organizational capacity.
Over the course of this 12-month contract, the project manager will work with the WBCI steering committee, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, local stakeholders, and other experts to develop the assessment.
Based on the assessment, by the end of 2020, the project manager will have worked with WBCI’s IBA Committee to 1) identify conservation opportunities in 5-15 high-priority IBAs, and 2) identify strategies, including key stakeholders and potential funders, for launching bird conservation partnerships at these priority IBAs.
SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE REQUIRED: This project/position requires strong analytical and organization skills, experience working with a wide range of conservation partners, excellent oral and written communication skills, and knowledge of IBA program policies and procedures. A degree in avian ecology, conservation biology, wildlife management, or a related field will be preferred. Grant writing experience and knowledge of conservation funding sources desired. Limit your cover letter and proposal to two pages and attach a resume.
The 2019 State of the Birds Report is out! The report draws upon trends reported in last week’s big study on bird declines, highlights conservation successes to learn from, and outlines policies needed to help state agencies and their partners reverse declines moving forward, including the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. Learn more at https://www.stateofthebirds.org/2019/
Wisconsin has a rich history of wildlife conservation. WBCI and its partners adopted a new strategic plan in 2018 and is set to embark on phase two of its Important Bird Area program. The Natural Resource Foundation of Wisconsin’s Bird Protection Fund just surpassed the $1 million mark in fundraising for priority bird conservation projects here. Field work for Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II is now complete, results of this landmark survey effort coming in just a few short years. Bird City Wisconsin has grown to more than 110 recognized communities, and the Western Great Lakes Bird & Bat Observatory has become a regional leader in bird education and monitoring. There’s a lot to be excited about yet much work to do. We can all make a difference, and the time to act is now!
We know conservation works when we invest in it. The same study on bird declines showed increases in populations of raptors thanks to the banning of DDT and endangered species legislation for species like bald eagles and peregrine falcons. Waterfowl populations are up by 35 million, or 56%, as a result of billions of dollars of private and government funding for wetland protection and restoration. We need to expand these models to other birds and their habitats. A promising piece of legislation now sits in the House of Representatives. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would provide a major boost of dedicated funding for states to implement their Wildlife Action Plans for species of greatest conservation need. Ask your congressional representatives to support the Act today!
Wisconsin DNR conservation biologist, Ryan Brady, recently appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio’s Central Time to summarize the recent study on continental bird declines and discuss how results compare across Wisconsin. Learn more and listen here >>>
In less than a single lifetime, North America has lost more than one in four of its birds, according to a report in the world’s leading scientific journal.
Published in Science by researchers at seven institutions, the findings show that 2.9 billion breeding adult birds have been lost since 1970, including birds in every ecosystem.
The losses include iconic songsters such as Eastern and Western Meadowlarks (down by 139 million) and favorite birds at feeders, such as Dark-eyed Juncos (down by 168 million) and sweet-singing White-throated Sparrows (down by 93 million).
The disappearance of even common species indicates a general shift in our ecosystems’ ability to support basic birdlife, the scientists conclude.
This year’s Winter Finch Forecast suggests good food sources in Canada will keep most of the “winter finches” up north this year, at least in areas east of Wisconsin. Check out the full report for details!