As part of Provita’s continual growth and improvement, this year Dr. Ada Sánchez-Mercado joined the team as the Director of Applied Conservation Actions. Ada has more than a decade of experience in studies of tropical biodiversity and using models to understand species distributions and threats. As a part of RSI, she has developed ecological models of suitable habitat and current conditions as inputs to evaluate potential sites for future reintroductions. Ada also leads our work to understand the forces driving the unsustainable harvest of Red Siskins in Venezuela.
We also welcomed Dr. Laurie Fajardo as a new member of the RSI team. An expert in ecological restoration, Laurie has extensive experience in the recovery and restoration of tropical dry forests. In particular, she has worked with farmers to use mycorrhizal fungi, native plant nurseries and other techniques in ecological agroforestry to achieve the recovery of these ecosystems which are so crucial to Red Siskin survival. Currently, she leads the evaluation of shade coffee farm vegetation in the USCAFE project.
Our third new arrival was Luis Arrieta, who joined us as USCAFE project coordinator. In addition to being a formally-trained agronomist, Luis was born and raised on a coffee farm in Piedra de Cachimbo and maintains many personal ties there, and so is uniquely positioned to truly collaborate as an equal with the farmers of the region. He is also intimately familiar with coffee plantations and is able to work proactively with producers. In the project, he will be responsible for working with the farmers to improve production rates by implementing organic and bird-friendly practices.
Luis is joined by Elida Moreno, who has come on board as USCAFE project manager. A specialist in project management, Elida brings us 15 years of experience and great energy to organize, document, administer, control and monitor all activities to fulfill project objectives, be they agronomic, social, ecological or commercial.
On the ecological side, Dr. Pablo Lau will monitor migratory birds for the USCAFE project along with RSI team member Jhonathan Miranda. Pablo has 20 years of experience with ornithological fieldwork in Venezuela, is a university professor, and has served as the director of the Ornithology Collection at the Museo de Historia Natural La Salle in Caracas.
Finally, Silvia Gómez will lead socio-economic evaluation of changes in the Piedra de Cachimbo community and their livelihoods. Silvia is an anthropologist with professional experience in cultural management and public policies; coordination of cultural, ethnographic and museum projects; and coordination of registration and documentation of cultural processes at the national level.
Welcome everyone to the team! We thank the IUCN Species Survival Commission and all the projects that, along with the Red Siskin Initiative, build up Provita for providing space in the new offices to give our team a comfortable home. Every day brings us closer to reaching our goals to save the Red Siskin and its habitat, and we appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm and energy, even in challenging circumstances.