Dec 262016

In this season of love and giving, SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal) ask you to spare a thought for the plight of Fura-bardos (Macaronesian Sparrowhawk) – the famously elusive and sadly threatened resident of Madeira’s enchanting Laurel Forest.

Cátia Gouveia (Coordinator of SPEA Madeira) explains how YOU can make a big difference by donating to their crowdfunding campaign – HELP FURA-BARDOS IN MADEIRA – which runs until 10th January 2017.

Throughout this festive season, a great many bottles of fine Madeira wine will be opened in our homes. But if you find yourself toasting your family’s heath over this tasty tipple, adding a little splash to the gravy accompanying your yuletide feast, or perhaps indulging in a delicious slice of Madeira cake, then please spare a thought too for the threatened nature of Portugal’s Madeira archipelago from where this famous wine hails.

Fura-bardos (Macaronesian Sparrowhawk) (c) SPEA

Madeira’s wine may be ‘fortified’ but her Laurel forest (Laurissilva) and its elusive resident, the Macaronesian Sparrowhawk (known locally as Fura-bardos), are in desperate need of extra strength and our protection.

The island of Madeira is home to the largest and best preserved Laurel Forest in the world – a subtropical, rainforest landscape, characterized by tall broadleaf tree species with glossy, evergreen and elongated leaves and an almost ethereal quality thanks to its highly humid yet mild temperatures. It has a scientifically rich ecosystem with as many as 82 endemic species of plants, mosses, invertebrates and, of course, birds.

Yet, despite its designation as a UNESCO world heritage site, the forest is in constant danger – plagued by human interference and invasive alien plant species that greedily encroach upon indigenous flora. All this has had devastating consequences for local wildlife, most notably Fura-bardos which has suffered fires in 5 breeding areas in 2016 alone.

Since 2013, SPEA has managed the LIFE Fura-bardos project in an attempt to save this magnificent bird of prey and the precious landscape it inhabits. Great conservation work has been done so far but the battle is far from won and, sadly, the fight cannot continue past summer 2017 unless we can secure more funds.

This is why SPEA has launched an ambitious crowd-funding campaign, ‘Help Fura-bardos in Madeira’, with a target of $60,000. Donations will go directly to the maintenance of 50 ha of restored laurissilva habitat (free from invasive species), the recovery of 20 ha of vulnerable vegetation damaged by fires, a greenhouse nursery project to grown 10,000 native plants and an annual monitoring programme of Fura-bardos nests.

Fura-bardos has always been notoriously difficult to spot in the wild, but if we fail to raise the funds we need, it may disappear from our forests altogether. The campaign runs until 10th January 2017, but we are still a long way off our goal. We need everyone to lend a helping hand – please share this campaign with your friends, family, and networks, and connect with us on social media by using the #HelpFuraBardos hashtag.

Make Fura-bardos’ story your story – and give it a happy ending!

Cátia Gouveia is Coordinator of SPEA Madeira and the Programme Coordinator of the Fura-Bardos campaign.

You can read more about the campaign website and DONATE here.

The crowdfunding campaign will run until 10th January 2017. After this, you can still donate to the Fura-bardos and Laurissilva cause by contacting SPEA directly.

This article was first published by BirdLife International on 12 Dec 2016.


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