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Citizen Action in El Salvador

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Reducing threats to shorebird habitat in Golfo de Fonseca, El Salvador through best management practices

The Gulf of Fonseca is a critical location for migratory shorebirds in Salvadoran territory and on the Pacific Coast. Priority species have been recorded there in high numbers with counts in a single day of up to 23,972 individuals.

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Women from the Barrancones Community, El Salvador, in the municipality of Conchagua, in reforestation activity with mangrove species in an area of ​​recovered salt forest previously used by a shrimp farm.

Project Summary

SalvaNATURA documented first-hand the factors that threaten the ecosystems, habitats and bird life in this area and proposed to develop and implement an awareness and training program for local partners. By emphasizing the value of local birdlife and threats to coastal marine ecosystems, the community–including salt producers and municipality authorities–will be better equipped to support conservation-focused decision making through a Citizen Action Plan featuring locally and collaboratively generated best practices for conservation. 

Key Results

The training and awareness program was a success, ending with workshops for planning citizen actions focused mainly on mitigating the most significant threat to shorebirds, the solid waste that contaminates the beaches and mangroves in the area.

The planning and execution of citizen actions to clean beaches and mangroves and correct final disposal of waste was also successful and included establishing solid waste collection stations and seed collection and reforestation of mangroves with species of Red Mangrove (Rhizophora) and Black Mangrove (Avicennia). 

Through the project’s duration, there were 55 participants from local municipalities in the training and planning workshops, of which 27 participated in at least 3 of the 5 workshops held.

Citizen action to clean up solid waste in the mangrove
Citizen action to clean up solid waste in mangroves, carried out by community members in Los Jiotes, municipality of San Alejo.

How MSP+ Helped

MSP+ support covered staff time, transportation, materials, and other logistical costs for the training and planning workshops. Additionally, MSP+ support covered the production and printing of educational materials, tools, and other inputs necessary to carry out citizen actions to mitigate some of the observed threats to shorebirds.

Prior to this project, funding only existed for bird monitoring. Through this project, SalvaNATURA raised public awareness of continued threats to shorebirds, promoted solutions, and developed a new work plan to address threats to habitat through community-focused conservation actions in Bahía de La Unión.

Citizen action planning workshop
Citizen action planning workshop held in November 2023, with community members and staff from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources and municipalities of Conchagua and La Unión participating.

Key Partners

  • Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN)
  • Local governments through their Environmental Units of the Municipalities of La Unión, Conchagua, Pasaquina and San Alejo
  • Communities of Barrancones, Los Jiotes, El Güisquil and Playa San Carlos.

What might be next?

SalvaNATURA is excited to continue the progress made under its first MSP+ grant. It plans to:

  • Continue with the execution of planned citizen actions;
  • Deliver the educational material in production to local actors, and install those that are necessary;
  • Continued project evaluation;
  • Implement productive projects to support livelihoods for people in local communities;
  • Strengthen awareness and training processes; and
  • Train bird watchers and sustainable tourism guides.