This year’s Birdfair, an event held every year at Rutland Water, will raise money to support the creation of Argentina’s largest National Park, which will provide a haven for flamingos and shorebirds.
Ansenuza National Park will protect a vast wetland in the heart of the country, Mar Chiquita (‘little sea’), which is South America’s second-largest water body and the fifth largest salt lake in the world.
“I am delighted that Birdfair will be supporting the Argentina National Parks services in creating the largest National Park in the country and safeguarding a critical habitat for both resident and migratory birds” says Tim Appleton MBE, founder & Birdfair manager.
Mar Chiquita spans 70km by 24km (an area the size of Leicestershire), and is visited by a wide range of birds, including all three South American flamingo species. A variety of other species are also found in the area, such as maned wolf and crowned solitary eagle.
Despite being designated as a Ramsar site, an Important Bird & Biodiversity Area (IBA), a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve and a provincial reserve, Mar Chiquita is shrinking.
Water is being extracted at unsustainable rates and the lake could dry up, and there are further pressures such as pollution, deforestation and unregulated tourism.
These issues have spurred Aves Argentinas to take action and plan to create the National Park, including community engagement through working with local stakeholders, establishing local conservation guardians and strengthening the local economy through nature-based tourism.
"A vibrant ecotourism circuit at Mar Chiquita will lengthen the tourist season and generate sustainable livelihoods over a wider area,” says Malena Srur, from Aves Argentinas. “Local communities will become strongly committed to the area’s long-term conservation.”
Alongside announcing the conservation project for 2018, Birdfair also announced that the 2017 event raised £333,000 for last year’s theme, ‘Saving paradise in the Pacific’, which aims to clear the French Polynesian island of Rapa Iti of invasive predators.