Crown jewels of the High Andes

Crown jewels of the High Andes

– Conserving the Jewels in the Crown of the High Andes

Year: 2011 – 2012
: BirdLife International

Project Background
The wetlands of the high Andes from Venezuela to Argentina form a key component of paramo, jalca and puna ecosystems. They play a vital role in providing water to ecosystems and human communities at lower elevations, and are of key importance for resident and migratory biodiversity, including significant numbers of highly threatened species such as Bogota Rail (EN), Junín Grebe (CR), Titicaca Grebe (EN), Hooded Grebe (EN) and Andean Flamingo (VU).
High Andean wetland eco-regions are widely recognised as being globally threatened. The wetlands and the unique biodiversity they maintain are threatened through drainage, hydroelectric dams, changes in hydrological cycles, introduced species, overexploitation and incidental catch. These wetlands and the environmental services they provide are also expected to be severely affected by climate change.

The Ramsar Convention’s “Regional Strategy for Conservation and Sustainable Use of High Andean Wetlands” has identified the need to establish a regional, comprehensive management system for the High Andean Wetlands that helps protect their environmental goods and services and maintains the biodiversity associated with them. Since 2008, BirdLife has been supporting research, conservation planning and awareness activities at a suite of the most important wetlands in the High Andes for critically threatened bird species. Based on these earlier experiences, BirdLife now seeks to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable development of priority wetlands for high Andean biodiversity through targeted protection, management, education activities and engagement with local communities at three sites.

These sites are:

  1. Llanganates National Park, Tungurahua, Napo and Pastaza provinces, Ecuador
  2. Lago Junín, Junín Province, Peru
  3. Buenos Aires Plateau1, Santa Cruz Province, Argentina

Specific outcomes of the project will include:

  • Improved conservation status and biodiversity value of 3 priority high Andean wetland IBAs, through enhanced protection, wise management and restoration of key habitats for globally threatened species.
  • Key local and national decision makers, business leaders, local communities and conservation groups aware of the value of the environmental services and water resources provided by the three wetlands, increasing their willingness to support the conservation of such wetlands.
  • Increased capacity of national conservation organizations and local civil society groups helps ensure the long-term sustainability of conservation at the project sites.
  • Replicable and sustainable approach to the conservation of key wetland sites developed through working with local communities and decision- and policy-makers.
  • Implementation of project within the framework of the Ramsar Convention’s “Regional Strategy for Conservation and Sustainable Use of High Andean Wetlands” helps ensure long-term sustainability and replicability through


pdficon_largeCrown Jewels of the High Andes – Final Report (PDF 962KB)