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Privately owned working landscape can support diverse bird species: Study

ANI | Updated: Jun 05, 2019 23:08 IST

Washington DC [ USA], June 5 (ANI): According to a recent study by a university in California, it has been found that the fragmented and privately owned forest cover in Costa Rica can be a home to many vulnerable bird species.
The study was published in the journal, ' Journal of Applied Ecology'
The research suggests that working with landowners to conserve or restore forests on working landscapes can help protect wildlife. In Costa Rica, working landscapes include forest patches, crops, pastures and small towns.
The study found that reforesting private lands in regions that are wetter and already forested would yield the greatest gains for bird communities.
The information is being used by local conservation organizations to help prioritize the forests sites for rainforest restoration across the study region.
Daniel Karp lead author of the study said, "With sufficient forest cover, working landscapes-- even if degraded and fragmented-- can maintain bird communities that are indistinguishable from those found in protected areas. This means that private landowners have great power to improve the conservation value of their lands through reforestation."
As a part of the research project funded by National Geographic, the authors surveyed Neotropical birds at 150 sites across northwestern Costa Rica over two years. They found that agricultural fields hosted diverse bird communities, but those birds were distinct from species found in protected areas. Agricultural species also had large distributions, making them of lower conservation value than species found in protected areas.
Privately-owned forests, however, housed the same bird species as those found in protected areas, despite being twice as fragmented and more degraded by logging, hunting and fires.
After decades of decline, forest coverage in Costa Rica has been increasing since around the early 1990s. That is when the country began managing monetary incentives for landowners to maintain forest cover.
"Tropical birds respond very strongly to the amount of forest in their immediate vicinity," Karp said. "That's encouraging because it means forest restoration on a small scale, even in small patches, can be really effective in safeguarding vulnerable bird species," he added. (ANI)

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