Conservation Actions Underway
Local successes include the Runtacocha Highland near Cuzco, where local people are reacting positively towards better environmental control. High-altitude habitats have been surveyed and conservation measures proposed (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). The 1997 Bolivian record was within Madidi National Park, but Polylepis is threatened at the site (Valqui 2000). The Ilampu Valley is in the south-west corner of Cotapata National Park (Vogel and Davis 2002). Since 2004, there has been a Polylepis conservation programme working with local communities on the known sites for Royal Cinclodes. The project began with detailed mapping of Polylepis forest and key biodiversity areas within the nearly 100,000 acres of land owned by the Keara and Puina indigenous communities, and is now working to protect the forests in this area by implementing community-based conservation activities, including the establishment of communal greenhouses, plantations of native tree species for alternative firewood, and environmental education workshops in local schools and communities (I. Gomez in litt. 2003, 2008, 2009); and providing more than 400 people with new technologies, such as fuel-efficient stoves that dramatically reduce the demand for Polylepis trees as firewood (ABC 2007). This work includes efforts by the Instituto de Ecologia, with the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) providing support (B. Skolnik in litt. 2010). In Bolivia, research has been carried out to assess the feasibility of long-term Polylepis reforestation through studies into the germination and growth rate of P. pepei and the use of dendrochronology to date the frequency of destructive fires. As a result of this research, reforestation nurseries have been started ready for replanting. Work in local communities has involved sustainable income development through the support of textile trading and development of tourism infrastructure, along with improved medical provision (MacLeod 2009). As part of BirdLife's Preventing Extinctions Programme a number of actions are being implemented through Species Guardian Isabel Gómez (Asociacion Armonía: BirdLife in Bolivia): research on the species's status and distribution has been carried out, including collating all known published and unpublished records as well as spatial modelling and on-the-ground surveys, followed by a second phase of fieldwork to study the species's reproductive biology, territory size, habitat use and movements; a socioeconomic study has been carried out for two local communities; a National Strategy for conservation of Polylepis forest has been developed; a workshop to determine human impacts on Polylepis forests and formulate the possible solutions at the regional level was held which involved the Vice-ministry of Biodiversity, Forestry Resources and Environment as well as members of local communities; and environmental education workshops have been held in three local schools to raise awareness of the birds that live in the Polylepis forest and importance of their conservation. Much of the work carried out in Bolivia between 2004 and 2009 was implemented in conjunction with the Threatened Birds of Bolivia Project, run in partnership by Asociacion Armonía and the University of Glasgow (MacLeod 2009). In the Cordillera Vilcanota (Peru), ECOAN, with the support of the ABC, has established nine private reserves on community-owned land totalling over 3,600 ha (D. Lebbin in litt. 2010, C. Aucca Chutas in litt. 2012). In addition, since 2004 fencing has been put in place to protect Polylepis sapplings from grazing cattle, and reforestation efforts have so far seen the planting of over 480,000 Polylepis trees and over 150,000 trees of other species since 2002, with some of the latter planted as alternative fuelwood resources. Almost 6,000 fuel-efficient ovens were supplied to 20 communities between 2002 and 2008. Further work has been carried out with local communities to improve people's health and encourage sustainable livelihoods through tourism, textile trading and improved livestock and pasture management. In 2010, a range-wide conservation plan for the species was being developed (D. Lebbin in litt. 2010).
Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to survey remaining habitat in the relatively inaccessible Cordillera Vilcanota, to determine the species's distribution and investigate its ecology (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996, G. Servat in litt. 1999). Protect Yanacocha Forest and other Polylepis habitat in the Cordillera Vilcanota (G. Servat in litt. 1999). In the Cordillera Vilcanota, prioritise habitat restoration efforts at five localities - Mantanay, Pumahuanca, Abra Malaga, Yanacocha and Cancha-Cancha. Habitat restoration strategies should focus on patch size maintenance/enlargement, enhancement of within-patch habitat quality, and efforts to safeguard connectivity of suitable habitat. Management of habitat quality in remnant patches should focus on maintaining necessary conditions for resource partitioning amongst insectivorous guilds, which dominate the threatened Polylepis bird community. Improve traditional land-use management by segregating agricultural, grazing and forest areas. Expand Polylepis planting programmes and plant buffer zones below Polylepis woodland to provide an alternative firewood source. Evaluate conservation problems and socioeconomic issues. Encourage local people to develop land-use management and restoration schemes (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Establish private nature reserves in key sites. Encourage creation and participation of PES (Payment for Environmental Systems) schemes with local hotel owners/tour companies in Yanahuara/Urubamba. Encourage investment from a private company to finance a local sustainability programme (C. Aucca Chutas in litt. 2012).