Jorge Parra

Photo of the fellow Jorge Parra.

Protecting Shorebird Habitats in the Central Pacific Coast of Colombia

Project Site: Delta of the San Juan River and Ají Island in the Delta of the Naya River, Colombia

Sector: NGO

Discipline: Ornithology, Conservation Biology, Architecture, Public Policy

Collaborators: WCS – Colombia, Amphibia Group, Consejo Comunitario de la Comunidad Negra del Río Naya, Corporación Autónoma Regional para el Desarrollo Sostenible del Choco (CODECHOCO), and la Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca (CVC)

Jorge is a behavioural ecologist and conservation biologist with more than 10 years of experience working in conservation projects and research studies. He obtained his BSc and MSc at Los Andes University studying the social behaviour of birds in Los Andes, Orinoco and Amazon regions in Colombia. He received his Ph.D. in behavioural ecology and conservation form the University of Bath – UK studying the evolution of reproductive strategies in three closely related shorebird species (Charadrius spp.) from Madagascar. He is alumni of the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) a partnership between Wildlife Conservation Society, Fauna & Flora International and BirdLife International with the Project Chicamocha, implementing conservation actions to safeguard the habitat of two endemic and threaten species of birds: the critically endangered Chicamocha’s wren (Thryophilus nicefori) and the endangered Chestnut-bellied hummingbird (Amazilia castaneiventris). 

He joined Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) – Colombia in 2013 and currently works as their Protected Areas Coordinator, providing guidance on planning, establishment and management of protected areas for the National System of Protected Areas of Colombia (SINAP). In his fellowship, he is working to improve the quality of shorebird habitats in the network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Pacific Coast of Colombia, an important part of the Pacific Americas Migratory Flyway. The aim is to enhance the protection and management of two important sites: The Ramsar site Delta of the San Juan River (approx. 70,000 ha) and Ají Island in the Delta of the Naya River (approx. 24,600 ha). Marine Protected Area (MPA) networks are cornerstones of biodiversity preservation, however, few are effectively connected and managed to preserve critical coastal ecosystems and habitats for Neotropical shorebirds. 

Map of South America showing the location of the San Juan River Delta and Ají Island in the Pacific Coast of Colombia.
Location of the San Juan River Delta and Ají Island in the Pacific Coast of Colombia.

This project will support the implementation of the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) by the regional environmental authorities and Afro-community territorial councils to strengthen law enforcement in the new MPAs. The activities will also include a participative shorebird monitoring program to inform effective management in the new MPAs and provide insights into shorebird stopover ecology, shorebirds population size, and threats dynamics. 

By expanding the coastal areas under legal protection and enhancing management effectiveness, Jorge and his team will conserve well-connected shorebird habitats along the Colombian Pacific coast, thus implementing important actions of the national and regional Pacific Americas Shorebird Conservation Strategy. 

Jorge will be mentored by Germán Forero-Medina (Ph.D.), currently the Science Director at the Wildlife Conservation Society in Colombia. He graduated in Biology from the National Universidad of Colombia, obtained a M.Sc. in Ecology from the Federal University Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and he received his Ph.D. in Ecology and Conservation from Duke University, United States. Germán will contribute by providing strategic guidance and support in the biodiversity analysis, the shorebird monitoring efforts and the studies required for MPAs creation.

The cross-sectoral collaborator in this project is Héctor Archila (Ph.D.), founder and director of Amphibia Group SAS, an international professional services firm specializing in bio-based architecture and Structural Engineering. Héctor is an Architect from the University of Colombia, with a Graduate Degree in Project Management and a Ph.D. is Architecture and Civil Engineering from the University of Bath, UK. Héctor will contribute and guide the design of an environmental interpretive community trail based on local knowledge and biological research of coastal ecosystem and shorebirds.

Other partners in the project include the Community Council of the Black Community of the Naya River, the Autonomous Regional Corporation for the Sustainable Development of Choco (CODECHOCO), and the Autonomous Regional Corporation of Valle del Cauca (CVC).

Coastal Solutions Fellowship Program

The Coastal Solutions Fellows Program builds and supports an international community to design and implement solutions that address coastal challenges across the Pacific Americas Flyway. Our main goal is to conserve coastal habitats and shorebird populations by building the knowledge, resources, and skills of Latin American professionals, and by fostering collaborations among multiple disciplines and sectors.