The International Waterbird Census in Chile is coordinated by the Red de Observadores de Aves y Vida Silvestre de Chile (ROC), with the help of many volunteers.
Chile was the first country in the Neotropics to sign the Ramsar Convention, with Cruces River Sanctuary in Valdivia becoming the first Ramsar Site in the region. This is an important site for the Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melanocorypha), a national emblem. Other sites have since been listed as Ramsar sites, such as Bahia Lomas in the Magallanes Region. This is an extremely important area for species like Red Knots (Calidris canutus) and Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica).
We have surveyed many of these important sites for over 15 years, together with 200 other wetlands across Chile. Our efforts are now increasingly focused on areas of special interest, such as Ramsar sites and national parks reserves with large waterbird congregations, high species diversity or globally threatened species.
Thanks to the efforts of all our volunteers who have provided counts through the years, we now have a large collection of data which helps manage wetlands and the species using them. However Chile is a very large country and coverage remains insufficient to fully understand the current situation. We have good coverage of a range of wetlands, but there are strong regional variations. For example, in the north the coast is very well coverered; in the centre of the country lakes and man-made environments (such as reservoirs and dams); and in the south estuarine and freshwater environments. Important areas in the Andes and Andean plateua have not been adequately monitored in recent years.
We are always looking for new volunteers to help us with the census. If you are interested, please contact us.