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Project Update

Coastal Solutions Fellows Program

Coastal Solutions Fellows Program

Each year, millions of shorebirds migrate thousands of miles along the Pacific coast of the Americas, from their breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra of North America to their wintering grounds at the southernmost tip of Chile. These long-distance migrations evolved to depend on stopover and wintering sites - a network of coastal wetlands, estuaries, and beaches - known as the Pacific Americas Flyway.

The habitats along the Pacific Americas Flyway also provide important ecosystem services to growing coastal communities. Many of these coastal ecosystems and the services they provide are threatened due to increasing pressures from expanding human development and climate change, which are contributing to on-going shorebird declines.

ACS is proud to announce the Coastal Solutions Fellows Program. Over the past year, we have been working with our partners to design a program that supports young Latin American professionals to work on coastal solutions. In order to target the complex challenges surrounding coastal development, we need new solutions that combine knowledge, expertise, and ideas from multiple disciplines and sectors. Co-funded by David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Coastal Solutions Fellows Program is building a community of early-career leaders from the academic, private, and non-profit sectors that are working on new approaches to coastal development and ecosystem management.

Visit the website for more information. 

Capital Azul Coastal Marine Reserve Program

Capital Azul Coastal Marine Reserve Program

ACS and its partners (Pontífica Universidad Católica de Chile and Shellcatch) are working with fishing organizations along the central coast of Chile to create a network of marine reserves that are managed by fishermen.

Over the past several years, we have designed a program that is both desirable to fishing communities and leverages Chilean law that grants fishing cooperatives exclusive access rights to stretches of the coast. Known as TURFs (Territorial User Rights for Fisheries), these access rights are an important source of income for fishing communities via benthic fisheries.

A number of fishing communities have chosen to participate in the Capital Azul Coastal Marine Reserve Program. They agree to set aside a portion of their TURF as a no-take zone and agree to conduct anti-poaching surveillance.

In exchange, the community receives an annual payment to help with enforcement costs, as well as a video coastal monitoring system that independently monitors the no-take zone. ACS then monitors the biodiversity at the no-take zone and control sites to document changes and benefits. With support from Walton Family Foundation, we will be working over the next year to scale the program in central Chile by enrolling more fishing organizations in the Capital Azul Coastal Marine Reserve Program.

ACS Associate Stefan Gelcich and a Capital Azul Reserve Program  sign at the fishing community headquarters of Maitencillo in central Chile.

ACS Associate Stefan Gelcich and a Capital Azul Reserve Program  sign at the fishing community headquarters of Maitencillo in central Chile.

Designing Coastal Solutions

Designing Coastal Solutions

Last month ACS led a workshop focused on designing new solutions to coastal challenges in Latin America. Held at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City, over 30 scientists, architects, and planners participated, representing multiple countries along the Pacific coast of the Americas. We spent a day working with experts from Canada to Chile on designing a program that would promote new solutions across Latin America. Working with partners Cornell University and the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, ACS is designing a ten-year fellowship program to tackle environmental challenges in coastal areas.

The goal of the Coastal Solutions Fellows Program is to build, train, and support a collaborative network of scientists, developers, and planners who are designing and implementing new evidence-based solutions to coastal environmental challenges in Latin America. For the next decade, the Program will support the development of innovative solutions for conservation and development in Latin America along the Pacific Americas Flyway. From Mexico to Chile, dozens of coastal sites provide critical habitat for millions of migrating shorebirds. Shorebirds exemplify the connectedness, wonder, and complexity of nature by migrating annually from breeding sites in the Arctic to key wintering sites in Latin America. Many species are endangered, partly because these coastal sites are threatened by development, climate change, and other dynamic processes. Coastal Solutions Fellows will collaborate across sectors to develop new evidence-based approaches to improve the protection of shorebirds and their habitats in Latin America along the Pacific Americas Flyway.

The greatest threats to the Pacific Americas Flyway in Latin America are various types of business as usual coastal development, including urban, tourism, and aquaculture. These threats are exacerbated by current and projected impacts associated to climate change. Effective solutions that target and reduce these threats will require collaborations between scientists, planners, and developers. Yet, opportunities for developing cross-sector collaborations are rare. The Coastal Solutions Fellows Program exists to spark new collaborations between scientists, planners, and developers by promoting peer-to-peer learning, providing strategic trainings, and challenging fellows to develop site-based coastal solutions along the Pacific Americas Flyway.

Community-based Environmental Monitoring in Mexico

Community-based Environmental Monitoring in Mexico

ACS recently returned from the Yucatan where we are working the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and CONABIO (Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad). Over the next six months, we will be helping CONABIO understand what influences participation in their community-based avian monitoring program. One of the longest-running programs of its type, the program consists of a network of dozens of community groups monitoring birds across all of Mexico.

Invasive Species on the Andaman Islands

Invasive Species on the Andaman Islands

Josh Donlan recently returned from India where he was working with Indian scientists and the local NGO Andaman and Nicobar Environment Team. On the Andaman Islands, Josh participated in a workshop focused on invasive herbivores, their impacts on the Andaman Islands, and potential management options. The workshop was well received, including active participation by the Department of Forestry and Conservation. ACS is assisting with next steps, which include moving forward on a feasibility study and a demonstration project focused on the management of invasive herbivores.

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Panama Bay Landscape Assessment

Panama Bay Landscape Assessment

ACS recently returned from Panama where we are conducting a Landscape Assessment of Panama Bay. The Bay is one of the most important wintering grounds for shorebirds in the western hemisphere. As Panama City continues to develop at a rapid pace, many challenges are emerging around striking a balance between development and the protection of the coastal habitats surrounding the city. As part of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation's Marine Birds Program, ACS is talking with all stakeholders in Panama City, across all sectors, to help better understand the dynamics around development and what solutions and strategies will help protect the important mangrove and mudflat habitats surrounding Panama City.

Helping Foundations Be More Effective

Helping Foundations Be More Effective

ACS spent much of its time in 2014 helping environmental foundation do what they do better. In collaboration with Dantzker Consulting and Clarus Research, ACS worked with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to conduct a mid-program evaluation of their Pacific Seabird Program. This work included an expert elicitation survey to help NFWF craft a forward-looking strategy for seabird conservation in the Pacific that will maximize conservation returns. You can download the NFWF evaluation here.

Working with the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Foundation Ensemble, ACS conducted a marine conservation assessment of Peru. Peru’s marine environment is unique and globally important from many perspectives. It supports the anchoveta fishery—the world’s largest fishery. The Humboldt Large Marine ecosystem is one of the world’s most productive ecosystems—both its complexity and biodiversity are staggering. And Peru’s marine environment supports jobs and livelihoods. A recent study estimates that Peru’s fisheries sector alone provides over 200,000 jobs, the majority of which are connected to the artisanal fishing sector. We provided the assessment by synthesizing the relevant literature and conducting in-country interviews across all relevant sectors. The report will be available to the public soon.

Technology, Human-Centered Design, and Biodiversity

Technology, Human-Centered Design, and Biodiversity

In Chile, ACS is designing and testing a market model that provides measurable coastal biodiversity benefits while simultaneously providing livelihood security to fishing cooperatives. In partnership the social start-up Shellcatch, Stefan Gelcich (Center for Applied Ecology and Sustainability, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile), and Mike Sorice (Va Tech University, USA), we are doing so by co-designing a program with artisanal fishers that compensates them for the opportunity costs forgone by setting aside a portion of their Territorial User Rights for Fisheries as a no-take zone. The outcome is a scalable program that provides a supplementary revenue stream to fishing cooperatives in exchange for management actions that produce verified biodiversity benefits and promote sustainable fisheries. 

We are partnering with the social business Shellcatchto develop the technology and protocols to verify contract conditions with participating fishing cooperatives. Building on over three years of experience in Chile, we have developed video monitoring and GPS technology that can detect anti-poaching events within established no-take zones. This technology is the foundation to monitor the anti-poaching surveillance and reporting component that is required by participating fishing cooperatives.

Below is video footage of our land-based video monitoring system designed to detect poaching events, as well as verify contract compliance with participating fishing cooperatives.