There are many fine conservation organizations in all of the countries visited by VENT. On this page we want to bring awareness to some of the lesser-known organizations that VENT and VENT leaders feel are worthy of your consideration. In addition, we will occasionally post about current conservation issues that may affect areas visited on our tours.
Since its inception, VENT has been committed to supporting conservation. Through the years we have worked to raise funds for the protection and preservation of wild places, endangered birds and mammals, and important birding areas all over the world. Moving forward, we have decided to designate one project every year that VENT will support. In 2020 that project will be Pacha Quindi, a parcel of land in the Andes of northwestern Ecuador that the Mindo Cloud Forest Foundation plans to purchase from Tony and Barbara Nunnery. Tony and Barbara bought this 50-hectare (125-acre) tract over 20 years ago. Deforested prior to their arrival, they removed the non-native tall grass and other invasive plants and began restoring the land with native vegetation. This effort took many years of backbreaking work. Today, Pacha Quindi is a magnificent property that features a restored cloud forest ecosystem with trails and over 20 hummingbird feeders that host a dozen or more species of hummingbirds at any given time.
Now, because of health problems and other issues, Tony and Barbara need to sell this land and move to Germany where Barbara’s parents live. VENT provided the funds for Tony to hire and train a local person, Edison Velez, to maintain the property, including the trail system and hummingbird feeders. These feeders have attracted more species of hummingbirds than any other site in the world. So renowned is the hummingbird show here that Tony and Barbara received over 10,000 visitors to Pacha Quindi from 2011–2018. It would be a great shame if the tract that Tony and Barbara worked so hard to restore was lost, certainly for the natural world, but also for the international birding community.
VENT has agreed to pay the salary of the local manager and to donate $10,000 to the Mindo Cloud Forest Foundation. An anonymous donor has pledged $100,000 to match the first $100,000 raised in the effort toward a final goal of $300,000.
The Mindo Cloud Forest Foundation has been working for eighteen years to acquire tracts of land in this marvelous area which is near the community of Mindo only a couple of hours west of Quito. Acquiring Pacha Quindi will take that organization to a new level. VENT tour leader Paul Greenfield is a board member of the foundation. He and Dr. Robert Ridgely feel this is a very important project and regard Pacha Quindi as one of the best tracts of land in the Mindo area. In Paul’s words, “We are looking forward to keeping Tony and Barbara’s legacy alive and well, and with this land purchase further the cause of environmental conservation in the mega-biodiverse region and country for future generations.”
We hope you will join us in support of this important project, both for its tremendous conservation value and to honor Tony and Barbara for their hard work over so many years.
Please visit the Pacha Quindi website to learn more about this magical place. Additionally, we encourage you to visit Pacha Quindi’s YouTube channel for a “real time” experience.
You can donate to this important cause in two ways: via personal check sent to Friends of Mindo Cloud Forest, 103 Chestnut Hill, Brattleboro, VT 05301, or by credit card or PayPal through the foundation website: http://bit.ly/MindoCloudForest_Donate
Mindo Cloud Forest Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donors will receive a proper acknowledgment letter for tax deduction purpose.
March 5, 2012, by Steve Hilty
The Missouri Prairie Foundation was founded in 1966 and has grown into an extraordinarily dynamic and effective organization. But, to be honest, I was unaware of its existence for many years despite my "prairie" background. As a kid, I grew up on a farm in western Missouri where putting up prairie hay was an annual summer event and Greater Prairie-Chickens, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and Dickcissels were an important part of my youth. Huddled in a borrowed tent I spent many chilly spring mornings watching Greater Prairie-Chickens display on our farm. In the winter I thrilled to the sight of coveys that flushed with powerful wing beats and then set their wings on unbelievably long glides.
Today those Greater Prairie-Chickens are gone. So also is most of the continent's tallgrass prairie, a once vast zone that, following the last glacial retreat some 12,000 years ago, extended from Manitoba to northern Texas and east to Ohio. Only a fraction of a percent remains. In several states there is virtually none. Even in Kansas and Oklahoma, two states with the largest remaining stands of tallgrass prairie, sites are fragmented and greatly diminished. Ecologists today rank temperate grasslands, including tallgrass prairies, as the "least conserved and most threatened major habitat type on earth." This is largely because prairie soils are among the richest and most productive for agriculture. Today numerous organizations focus on the preservation of prairie grassland (see the Missouri Prairie Foundation website for some of these) but the Missouri Prairie Foundation is my favorite and one of the best. Their focus is regional and specific: they actively purchase and manage prairies; organize public awareness events, workshops, and campouts; participate in prairie burns and prairie restoration; work with private landowners; advocate for local, state, and national issues; and publish perhaps the premiere magazine on prairie grasslands. Examine their beautiful website(www.moprairie.org) and you’ll see why I am such an ardent supporter of this organization.
December 2, 2011
American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is the only bird conservation group that tackles the tough job of preventing the extinction of the rarest birds throughout the Americas. ABC works in many of the countries where VENT international tours go, and for eight years Victor served on the board of ABC. ABC also works in the U.S. on policy and habitat conservation programs, to eliminate threats to birds, and to address conservation at a landscape scale for our declining migratory species. Among ABC's greatest achievements is the network of 33 bird reserves in ten countries spanning more than 130,000 acres in total, mostly established during the last five years. This reserve network, the vast majority of which includes titled land owned by ABC’s Latin American partner groups, includes some of the best birding sites on the continent. The reserves provide habitat for more than 2,000 bird species (nearly half the bird species occurring in the Americas) of which 71 are globally Vulnerable, 35 are Endangered, and 12 are Critically Endangered according to IUCN-World Conservation Union assessments. In addition, 18 of the 33 reserves are known as Alliance for Zero Extinction sites: locations that provide the only known remaining habitat for an Endangered or Critically Endangered species. The list of birds protected includes such legendary species as the Long-whiskered Owlet, Jocotoco Antpitta, Santa Marta Parakeet, Black-breasted Puffleg, and many, many more.
Just by going to some of these places you can help conservation, since the costs of managing many of the reserves can be offset by income from visiting birders who stay at lodges operated by the conservation organizations that also own the reserves. VENT tours use a number of these ABC reserves and lodges. Another way you can help is by sending a tax deductible gift to ABC at 4249 Loudoun Avenue, The Plains, VA 20198. ABC is among the best respected charities in America, and in fact, for six consecutive years, ABC has been rated a 4-Star, "Exceptional" charity by the independent group Charity Navigator—a status achieved by less than one percent of all U.S. charities. In 2014, ABC and VENT worked together, along with the Tucson Audubon Society, to help raise the funds to save the Paton hummingbird site in Patagonia, Arizona, now known as Tucson Audubon Society’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds.
For more information about ABC, visit http://www.abcbirds.org/
One of the most important ways VENT has supported conservation has been through our summer camp program. Roger Tory Peterson decided to attend Camp Chiricahua in 1991 because of his conviction that our camps were the best thing to happen in the history of birding since the publication of his first field guide in 1934. He said, “These kids are learning to be the conservationists of tomorrow. They must be encouraged.” Since we started our camps in 1986, over 500 young birders have attended them. Many of them are members of conservation organizations, and a number of them are on the staff of these organizations.