JANUARY 25, 2016
Generous support for the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) from Fondation Segré Conservation Fund at Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is already creating valuable opportunities for an already thriving global network of CLP alumni to share their skills through the Learning Exchange Programme, as a recent example from Colombia illustrates.
It is well over two decades since Professor Stuart Marsden cut his conservation teeth as a member of a CLP-funded project team from Manchester Metropolitan University studying some of the restricted-range bird species on the Indonesian island of Sumba. Today, he is Professor of Conservation Ecology at that very same institution. In July 2015, courtesy of CLP’s Learning Exchange Programme, Stuart found himself in Colombia, passing on some of the knowledge and tricks of the trade that he has acquired in the intervening 22 years. The young conservationists hoping to benefit from his experience in project planning, field survey techniques and analysis were Eliana Fierro-Calderon and Diana Eusse-González, who currently work for Asociación Calidris, a Colombian NGO engaged in bird conservation.
Recipients of a CLP grant in 2008, Eliana and her team won a multi-year Follow-up Award in 2014 to extend their research across two of the world’s most important avian hotspots. The Colombian Inter-Andean Slopes and Chocó Endemic Bird Areas were the intended focus of their ‘Promoting conservation of threatened bird species in western Colombia’ project.
Although it was not originally envisaged as part of the formal mentoring process, the local team soon picked up useful tips from Stuart on how to prioritise when deciding what to include in the study. His first contribution was a lesson in pragmatism. In view of their budget and time constraints, he suggested that Eliana and her team limit the geographical scope of the study to one of these two locations, in order to maximise their time in the field, increase the frequency of site visits, and cut down on transportation costs.