Mitigation of disturbance on migratory shorebirds at the WHSRN site, Todos Santos Bay
Location of the project: Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
Highest Degree earned: MSc. Marine and coastal sciences
Type of the project: Applied
Jonathan Vargas is a Mexican biologist, conservationist and shorebird specialist. He is based at Terra-Peninsular – an environmental NGO focused on conserving the biodiversity of the Baja California Peninsula. Jonathan has spearheaded the conservation of Todos Santos Bay, on the Pacific Coast of Baja California, where he started a shorebird-monitoring project that achieved the recognition of the bay as a site of regional importance for shorebirds and other migratory birds.
Despite of being such an important stopover, Ensenada – a fast growing city with half a million inhabitants – is threatening the integrity of the bay. Urban growth is increasing pressure on the main beach and estuary that Red Knots – a long distance migrant – and Snowy Plovers – a critically endangered shorebird – use to rest and breed, respectively. Uncontrolled recreational activities such as ATV vehicles and off-leash pets intensify threats to shorebirds, while large-scale development projects and desalination plants are fragmenting the shoreline and disrupting the already fragile ecological balance of the coast.
In response to these threats, Jonathan will continue a shorebird-monitoring program on the bay to identify critical breeding areas of key species and, in collaboration with planners and architects, create exclusion zones for breeding shorebirds and green infrastructure to reduce anthropogenic pressure on sensitive habitats. In conjunction with a legal team and government officials, he will lead the creation of regulatory instruments that can be integrated to local development plans and public policy. With the help of Terra-Peninsular, he will also begin a powerful communication and educational campaign to reach out to the main users of the beach and reach agreements with the private sector to adopt best practices for coastal zone management. Altogether, Jonathan is confident that he can significantly reduce disturbance and unsustainable anthropogenic activities that threaten the coast that both shorebirds and people depend on.