Outstanding Conservation Ideas Award: 2022 Winners

Latin America and the Caribbean contain about half of the world's biodiversity, including over 4,000 bird species. Unfortunately, the rich flora and fauna of the region is at risk from threats such as habitat loss and climate change, which are fueling population declines in a significant number of bird species.

Tackling these issues requires extensive collaboration and innovation, and American Bird Conservancy's partners in the region have the right skill sets to get the job done. ABC is helping to support and publicize their work through its Outstanding Conservation Ideas Award, which recognizes new and creative approaches to bird conservation.

This year's winners, which include conservation nonprofits in Colombia and Ecuador, have demonstrated the power of inclusive, community-based conservation and education. Read on to learn more about these bold and inspiring conservation projects.

Organization: Fundación Ecohabitats

Project: Contigo Pero Sin Ti: Conservación Sin Barreras (With You but Without You: Conservation Without Barriers)

To surmount the challenges of traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fundación Ecohabitats Colombia used WhatsApp and other technologies to continue their conservation work. They trained people in rural communities to share wildlife photos, GPS locations, and other information via cell phones so the organization could continue to monitor conservation efforts. Due to the success of this initiative, Fundación Ecohabitats is looking to expand this community monitoring initiative to other rural areas, including Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities.

Fundación Ecohabitats is a nongovernmental organization working to conserve biodiversity with a focus on climate change adaptation. The Gorgeted Puffleg, a type of hummingbird, is one of the bird species benefiting from the group's work. Locally known as Zamarrito del Pinche, this Critically Endangered puffleg is found only in the Andes of southwestern Colombia. New sites of potential occurrence for this rare species have been discovered thanks to Fundación Ecohabitats' efforts, including community monitoring.

Organization: Sociedad Ornitológica de Córdoba

Project: CINEHARPÍA

The Sociedad Ornitológica de Córdoba (SOC) and Proyecto Grandes Rapaces are using cinema to educate people in isolated rural communities about the Harpy Eagle, the largest and most powerful raptor in the Americas. Through their project CINEHARPÍA, they seek to combat the image of the Águila Harpía as a threat to livestock and traditional livelihoods. Instead, they are working to inspire love and stewardship of this declining species. Proyecto Grandes Rapaces has produced a series of films about the Harpy Eagle, which will be shared with remote communities across northern Colombia.

SOC is a nonprofit located in northern Colombia, with the mission of promoting the study and dissemination of ornithology. The organization partners with local communities to develop initiatives that contribute to the conservation and appreciation of birds. Proyecto Grandes Rapaces works to study and protect raptors in Colombia.

Organization: Reserva Tesoro Escondido

Project: Conocer Para Conservar (Learn in Order to Conserve)

The Reserva Tesoro Escondido, located in Ecuador's Chocó lowlands, has developed an environmental education program for children in the area. Through overnight trips to the reserve, kids get first-hand experience in the forest, learning about its species and conservation efforts in the reserve. So far, 90 children from four different communities have participated. Now, Reserva Tesoro Escondido is looking to expand the program and serve even more children.

Reserva Tesoro Escondido protects nearly 5,000 acres (2,000 hectares) in one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. The reserve is home to birds like the Great Green Macaw (Guacamayo Verde Mayor), the Banded Ground-Cuckoo (Cuco Hormiguero Bandeado), and the Harpy Eagle (Águila Harpía). 

The Outstanding Conservation Ideas Award

ABC launched the Outstanding Conservation Ideas award in 2021 as a way to recognize bold and innovative ideas from conservation partners based in Latin America and the Caribbean. The prize also serves as a means to facilitate collaboration among these groups and others. To be considered, projects need to be replicable and successful in terms of achieving their goals.

Submitted projects involve a range of activities, including fieldwork, outreach efforts, conservation management, and organizational financing. Winners receive a monetary prize and share their accomplishments with ABC staff and partners via webinar.

Last year's prizes went to organizations working on shade-grown coffee, agroforestry, and conservation monitoring.

ABC's International Bird Reserves

Working with in-country partners, American Bird Conservancy has helped establish a network of bird reserves across Latin America and the Caribbean that protect more than 1 million acres of habitat for rare and endangered birds. Visit our International project page to learn more about our work.


Erica J. Sánchez Vázquez is ABC's Digital Content Manager. She holds a Bachelors in Journalism from the University of Puerto Rico and a Masters in International Media from American University.
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