Engaging with our Latin American Partners: IAP’s Bahía San Quintín Campaign

Latin American Waterbirds

Over 180 Neotropical migrants - including Willets, Marbled Godwits, Long-billed Dowitchers, and Dunlins - rely on Bahia San Quintin, Mexico, a critical site along the Pacific Flyway that is benefiting from California Chapters' generous support. Photo by Alan Harper.

Recognizing that birds migrate across national boundaries and that effective conservation of these birds must encompass their entire range, Audubon formed the International Alliances Program (IAP) in 2006. From the beginning, IAP realized that the most sustainable approach to protecting the wintering grounds of 'our' birds is to grow the conservation effectiveness of local, on-the-ground organizations through capacity-building, joint projects, and financial support. IAP is advancing a program that delivers long-term, sustainable conservation results throughout the Western Hemisphere, drawing from Audubon's 100+ years of experience in education, policy, bird and biodiversity conservation, and Audubon's large network of dedicated conservation professionals and volunteers.

IAPs growing program currently has projects with local partners in Mexico, Belize, Panama, El Salvador, Paraguay, and the Bahamas, and continues to explore strategic new partnerships and conservation opportunities in other Latin American and Caribbean countries. In every location, IAP focuses financial and staff resources on the global Important Bird Area (IBA) program. By using the presence of migrant species as a selection criterion when identifying partnership sites, IAP links Audubon State Offices, regional initiatives, and Audubon Chapters to the conservation efforts at those sites - thereby harnessing the capabilities and resources of these organizations' staff, volunteers, and donors to achieve maximum conservation results.

One current project is located in northwestern Baja California, at Bahia San Quintin, a complex coastal environment with the largest Mediterranean coastal wetland in Mexico and the most pristine tract of coastal salt marsh in western North America. Considered an irreplaceable site along the Pacific Flyway migratory corridor, Bahia San Quintin supports approximately 180 Neotropical migratory bird species, including Western Snowy Plover, Long-billed Curlew, and Marbled Godwit. Bahia San Quintin is threatened by unsustainable tourist and urban development, agricultural expansion, poor grazing management, and incompatible land use. This natural area is at risk and desperately needs both local and national land use safeguards, ideally as a federally-protected area.

Due to the many shared species between Bahia San Quintin and California, IAP approached California's Chapter network to support a Pride campaign along with the Bahia San Quintin Coalition (Pronatura Noroeste, The Nature Conservancy, Pro Esteros, and Terra Peninsular). The campaign aims to empower citizens, build support, and change negative behaviors toward this site through social marketing techniques. Jess Morton, member of the Palos Verdes/South Bay Audubon Society and a National Audubon Society board member, has been visiting other Chapters in California to talk about the Bahia and its importance for so many of California's birds and to solicit support. For every $1 Chapters contribute to the campaign, $1 is matched through a challenge grant. In addition to this financial support, IAP is exploring more ways to build upon and strengthen the long-term conservation initiatives by linking the Audubon network (Chapters, State offices, National staff) with partners in Bahia San Quintin.


Contact the International Alliances Program at international@audubon.org