Friday, 14 September 2012

Colombia mega dam will destroy habitat for threatened macaw and newly-discovered wren

Further protection would help safeguard birds
September 2012. Celebrations over the discovery in Colombia of a new species of bird were short lived when it was revealed that much of its habitat - also the habitat for a threatened macaw - is in danger of being flooded by a new hydro-electric dam project.
The discovery of the Antioquia Wren (Thryophilus sernai) in the Central Andes of Colombia came one year into a seven-year construction project for what is to become the largest power station in the country. The nearly $5.5 billion, 738 foot tall Pescadero-Ituango hydroelectric dam will flood 15 square miles of habitat, drowning all six locations where the newly identified bird has been confirmed so far.
Military macaw
Of equal concern is the likely flooding by the dam of habitat for the last colony in the region of the threatened Military Macaw. This spectacular green, red, and turquoise parrot has scattered, sparse populations throughout Central and South America, including one colony 15 miles (25 km) upstream from the dam-well within area targeted for flooding.
"The timing of this discovery of a new species seemingly couldn't have been worse, especially given the dam project has been in the pipeline for decades and just recently has been given a green light. Despite the seriousness of the threat to these birds posed by this massive engineering project, there is still some hope to mitigate impacts to the birds," said Benjamin Skolnik, Conservation Project Specialist for American Bird Conservancy, who oversees the organization's conservation work in Colombia. "This region of Colombia is a world-class birding tourism destination, and the government understands how valuable birds are to the economy. This may help in the survival of the new wren and the macaw.

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