Despite the fact that this campaign is already over we want to thank everyone that helped the Priolo with their contribution and we also want to let you know that we will keep raising funds through a portuguese phone line created specially for this purpose.
So, if you want to keep helping the Azores Bullfinch and you are in Portugal, please call 760 45 55 65, the cost is €0.60 + VAT per call.
“Let’s preserve the Azores Bullfinch” is a campaign to rise funds to keep this species from extinction, ensuring the continuation of the conservation work undertaken since 2002 while contributing for the preservation of the native laurel forest and promoting local employment and economies.
The Azores bullfinch – the priolo (Pyrrhula murina) – is an endangered species endemic to the eastern mountains of the island of São Miguel in the Azores (Portugal). Considered almost extinct in the 20th century, today there is a small population of just over 1,000 priolos in total. Its habitat is highly threatened by the invasion of alien plant species. Projects implemented in the last few years by the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA – a non-profit association that promotes the study and conservation of birds in Portugal) and partners successfully restored an important area of the Azorean laurel forest, the habitat of the priolo, removing invasive alien plants and planting thousands of native and endemic species.
These projects helped improving the status of the priolo’s population which increased from around 300 birds in the 1990’s to around 1,000 at the present. But the population remains very small. Although the priolo has been downgraded from “critically endangered” to “endangered” on the IUCN Red List, it continues to be one of the most threatened and rarest birds in Europe.
Maintenance of the areas already cleared of invasive alien plant species is crucial for saving both the priolo, and the native laurel forest of São Miguel island, so important to the survival of the bird and to the local populations.
Your contribution is essential to keep this project going. With your support we can continue to preserve the priolo and its natural habitat by managing the restored areas, as well as propagating the native and endemic species of the Azores and planting them in mountain areas cleared of invasive species.
In 2009 the LIFE Sustainable Laurel was started on a bigger scale with additional funding provided by many valued supporters including the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme, Species Champion Birdwatch Magazine and the British Birdwatching Fair. The project focused on the preservation of two critical habitats of São Miguel Island: Azores laurel forest and the Azorean peat bogs. Overall, we have already recovered about 350 hectares of natural habitats in the eastern mountains of São Miguel Island; this was only possible with the hard work of an experienced and qualified team, this has created over 20 jobs/year in nature conservation in the two most rural and remote councils of the island.
What We Have Done - Conservation Work
In 2002, SPEA started working in the Azores together with the Azorean government, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, local municipalities, and the University of the Azores, through LIFE funding from the European Commission. This project (LIFE Priolo) started the restoration of the main areas of native laurel forest where the priolo lives by cutting out invasive alien plant species and planting the threatened native and endemic plants such as the Azorean juniper, Azorean blueberry, laurel and Azorean holly, and engaging local communities in the conservation of their natural heritage. The project, which was awarded the Best of the Best LIFE project by the European Commission, was a landmark in the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity as one of the few examples of a species that recovered the population numbers and escaped from the immediate effect of extinction.
In 2009 a new project was started on a bigger scale. The LIFE+ Sustainable Laurel focused on the preservation of two critical habitats of São Miguel island: Azores laurel forest and the Azorean peat bogs. Overall, we have already recovered about 350 hectares of natural habitats in the eastern mountains of São Miguel island; this was only possible with the hard work of an experienced and qualified team, this has created over 20 jobs/year in nature conservation in the two most rural and remote councils of the island.
These projects also have a significant social and economical impact, creating qualified jobs and promoting a more sustainable development of the local economies.
Unfortunately, this project will end on December 2012 and so far not enough funding has been secured to continue, jeopardizing all past achievements. It is essential not to allow invasive alien species to re-conquer the priolo’s territory; we need to continue to manage the restored areas, produce native plants in a nursery and plant them in the priolo’s territory.
What We Must do & What You Get
We ned to maintain the laurel forest in good condition to allow the priolo to survive. The bird is not only a national treasure and endemic, it is also a part of the Azorean and the world’s biodiversity. We need to monitor the areas and the bird so that we can prevent new invasions by alien plants in the main natural areas. To maintain the forest, it is essential to control new invasions and propagate approximately 30,000 plants per year and plant them to increase food availability for the priolo. At least $60,000 are required to maintain the more urgent work. We need your help to raise a significant part of these funds.
You can make a real difference by helping to preserve the habitat of this unique bird. SPEA urges you all to contribute. Any donation will help us to restore more habitat – produce more plants - save more priolos, while ensuring social and economic benefits promoting local development and sustainable tourism.
Be part of our project and help us to save the priolo while enjoying some benefits this will bring you. Come to see the plants we produce; see how the native forest thrives after the removal of invaders and produce more food and shelter for the priolo. And try to see the bird.
The priolo is counting on your support!
If the project stops now, all our efforts over the last decade might be in jeopardy and we, the Azorean native forest, and the priolo, might lose the war against alien invasive plants. This would probably imply the extinction of the priolo in the near future.
Other Ways You Can Help
If you cannot afford a donation, you can still contribute to the cause and make a difference by spreading the word:
● Please talk about this campaign with your family, friends, colleagues... everyone!
● Spread the message around to as many people as you can. Friends working with the media are particularly valuable.
● Tell them every single contribution will help preserve the Azorean bullfinch and its habitat.
● Share this by email, Facebook, Twitter....
● Visit our website http://www.spea.pt or http://centropriolo.spea.pt
● Use the Indiegogo share tools
● Visit the priolo conservation project and help protect its habitat.
Thank you for helping to preserve the priolo and the Azorean native forest!
The Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (SPEA) is a non-profit scientific association that promotes the study and conservation of birds in Portugal. It was founded in 1993 and reflects the desire of a large number of professionals and amateurs to develop activities in the field of ornithology and conservation. Currently SPEA has over 3,500 members, develops conservation projects in Portugal, and assists partners abroad (Cape Verde, São Tomé & Principe, Greece, Spain and Malta).