Strengthening the role of local IBA (Important Bird Areas) caretaker groups in Biodiversity Hotspots of Armenia
Strengthening the role of local IBA (Important Bird Areas) caretaker groups in Biodiversity Hotspots of Armenia
In the last 5 (five) years ASPB, BirdLife International and its partner organizations in the Caucasus, have been creating a coordinated network of people living at or near sites identified for one or more globally threatened bird species. These sites are the Important Bird Areas (IBAs).

The people or groups - BirdLife calls them "IBA Caretakers" – members of local site-adjacent communities that are able to promote the conservation and monitoring of globally threatened species and sites. "IBA Caretakers" are a powerful advocacy tool which cannot be ignored by decision-makers at all levels. They address threats at site level and use birds to stimulate the environmental interest and concern for biodiversity. The task of each "Caretaker" is to monitor sites, collect data on current bird population, threats and provide estimates and an early warning of problems. The results in the long run feed into the global database of BirdLife International, the IUCN Red List and national reportings. Such network is already in place in Armenia at 5 IBAs (Lake Arpi, Lake Sevan, Dsegh, Haghartsin and Noravank).

Over the past five years ASPB has made significant efforts to empower local volunteer groups and build an effective support base. It trained local caretakers on issues relevant to their role and coordinated the implementation of small grants by IBA caretakers. The small grants not only allowed to implement direct conservation actions, but created the capacity of several caretakers to plan, fund-raise for, implement and report conservation actions. Overall to date, IBAs in Armenia support 27 IUCN Red listed species, however the majority have not been covered by any research studies.
The capacity and skills of the Caretakers differ. In some cases they are able to carry out accurate monitoring of the target species, in others they are very good in public awareness activities but still lack some ability to identify and monitor wildlife. In all cases they can report on general threats. One of the main threats identified during the project was the lack of knowledge among local populations, hunters, and local authorities of the conservation status of the target bird species and the importance of their country and site for them.

The project will seek to achieve sustainability of conservation efforts by integrating (a) biodiversity conservation, (b) increased knowledge and advocacy (at all levels), (c) capacity building components. These components will vary from education & research to ecotourism development. Education efforts in schools will be offered through involvement of local children in a variety of nature conservation campaigns using the Globally Threatened Birds as a flagship species.
Specific training will be given to IBA caretakers on species monitoring techniques (e.g. Caucasian grouse, Egyptian and Griffon vultures, etc.) and an expert will be invited to train on specific methodologies developed for Caucasus countries. Field seminars will be arranged for local fishermen and hunters to increase their knowledge of endangered species and collect firsthand data.

Another component sought by the project is linking conservation and development aspects, i.e. generate income stream for local caretaker groups through non-consumptive uses of natural resource. An information & visitor center will be constructed in Dsegh IBA, which is internationally important for conservation of wild birds. The center will help to generate alternative income source from ecotourism and will serve as the unique cross-section for NGOs, scientists, tourists, tour agents. It will provide information to tourists on local wildlife, conservation problems and will assist in organizing birdwatching trips in the area.
Future plans also include development of bed-and-breakfast (B&B) tourism in the area as one of the types of community-based tourism, which will be promoted through the visitor center.

The overall Goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of local caretaker groups in the conservation and monitoring of sites important for birds within the priority corridors of the Caucasus hotspot. The specific Objective of the project is to enhance the capacity of local caretaker groups to carry out effective conservation of species and sites and the local empowerment through education, training and tourism development at community level.

The specific Objectives of the project are:
- Provide assessment of the current status of the Globally Threatened Species at selected biodiversity sites (IBAs) through involvement of local people.
- Enhance the capacity of civil network (local volunteer groups) to contribute to the monitoring and conservation of endangered species and sites at community level.
- Raise specific and general public awareness about the importance of the area for Globally Threatened species (Caucasian grouse, Egyptian vulture, Corncrake, etc.) and the need for its immediate protection through active involvement of local grassroots in conservation of the species and their habitats.
- Establish an information & education hub (visitor center) at Dsegh IBA to promote cooperation and build platform for local community and stakeholders and contribute to creation of alternative income source from ecotourism development.

Please see the project photostory at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g35lcY6FLH8 (Englsih version)
 
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Project Snapshot

Grantee:
Armenian Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife in Armenia)
Country:
Armenia
Area Of Work:
Biodiversity
Grant Amount:
US$ 26,379.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 107,320.60
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 5,460.00
Project Number:
ARM/SGP/OP4/Y2/CORE/2009/03
Status:
Satisfactorily Completed
Project Characteristics and Results
Notable Community Participation
- Local people (IBA Caretakers) are the primary beneficiaries of the project and will be directly involved in survey of sites and Globally Threatened species. Public meetings will target local people (shepherds, hunters, schoolchildren) to raise their awareness about the importance of these sites they live in for endangered species and the need for their protection. - Local young citizenry will participate in environmental education outreach programs and campaigns such as contests in community schools. - Establishment of information & visitor center will be done with support and participation of local community.
Inovative Financial Mechanisms
Data collected on the project will provide food for further conservation planning and will allow to fundraise for further conservation and advocacy actions. Additionally, the visitor center can raise funds in-country through the private sector or small grants programmes that are available through foreign embassies.
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Indicators
Biophysical
Number of globally significant species protected by project 3
Empowerment
Number and type of support linkages established with national government institutions 3
Livehood
Number of households who have benefited* from SGP project 3

Partnership

Schweizer Vogelschutz SVS/BirdLife Switzerland; Rhone-Alpes; WWF Armenian Branch

Grantee Contact

Ms. Luba Balyan
Phone: (+374 93) 224498
Email: armbirds@yahoo.com
 

Address

G. Njdeh 27/2, #10
Yerevan , 0026
 

Website

http://aspbirds.org/

SGP Country office contact

Mr. Hovhannes Ghazaryan
Phone:
+374 60 530000+116
Fax:
(+374 10) 543811
Email:
Ms. Svetlana Harutyunyan
Phone:
+374 60 530000+117
Email:

Address

14 Adamyan St.
Yerevan, 0010

Country Website