CLEARWATER BEACH, FL — American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is taking an ecosystem-based approach to bird conservation that is benefitting birds in ways that help other species — including people. In recognition of this work and for partnering with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and many others who care about birds, ABC received the SFI President’s Award at the SFI 2016 Annual Conference.
Examining the needs of a wide variety of birds helps build understanding of broader ecosystem health as it relates to sustainable forest management — the kind of forest management that also provides wider environmental benefits, like clean water and carbon storage, that support all life.
SFI and ABC are cooperating to conserve habitats of bird species of conservation concern that are declining significantly. Many of these species have a high-priority score on the North American Bird Conservation Initiative Watch List.
“Science clearly shows that declines among many forest birds can only be reversed through carefully directed forest management,” said George Fenwick, President of ABC. “Collaborating with SFI offers unmatched scale in terms of major forest regions and forest types. We also get to partner with a wide range of SFI Program Participants in grassroots, practical ways.”
ABC works with SFI Program Participants like Weyerhaeuser, Hancock Natural Resource Group, Resource Management Service, Enviva and Georgia Pacific to identify priority habitats for bird conservation, develop improved management scenarios, and focus on critical habitats and migration routes. Technical partners, including the Avian Research and Conservation Institute, Klamath Bird Observatory, and the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, bring strong research and science skills to the effort.
SFI Program Participants in the Southeast provide habitat conditions that support prairie warblers, prothonotary warblers, wood thrushes and Kentucky warblers. In California and Oregon, SFI Program Participants and ABC are collaborating to help rufous hummingbirds. All these birds score as highly vulnerable on the watch list.
“We are attracted to ABC’s approach because it helps forest ecosystems function in ways that can help a variety of species. ABC came on board looking for innovative ways to collaborate with SFI to leverage our vast continent-wide scale. I’m so pleased to recognize their vision and hard work with this award,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI Inc. “Working with ABC is helping SFI Program Participants create conditions that many birds need for successful breeding, migration and wintering.”
SFI and ABC aren’t limiting themselves to the most vulnerable species. Part of ABC’s ecosystem-based approach also focuses on “keeping common birds common.” By working to better understand how forest management affects all birds, today’s common birds won’t become tomorrow’s endangered birds. That’s good news for swallow-tailed kites, Swainson’s warblers, brown-headed nuthatches and western tanagers — all of which are being studied on lands certified to SFI.
As a grantee of SFI’s Conservation and Community Partnership Grants program, ABC has found ways to effectively engage a broad array of landowners in the SFI Program. Access to SFI funding and partner contributions has allowed ABC to leverage almost $600,000 toward better understanding how forest management can benefit bird habitats.
ABC is also a strong member of the SFI community — a community dedicated to working toward shared conservation goals. “ABC has its sights on the big conservation picture and George [Fenwick] is a past board member who continues to make important leadership contributions. I’m looking forward to more SFI Program Participants joining forces with ABC so we can make an even bigger difference for birds across North America,” Abusow said.