Tracking extinction risk trends and patterns in a mega-diverse country

Colombia has the highest number of bird species in the world, so you can imagine that leading their bird conservation strategy would be a pretty big job. Visiting researcher, Luis Miguel Renjifo has dedicated his life to this. He gives us an insight into the challenges of tracking extinction risk in a mega-diverse country, and the impacts of threats like deforestation, agricultural expansion, and invasive species.

Renjifo also discusses how recent social and political changes in Colombia provide reasons for hope and despair. In 2016, a peace agreement ended 50 years of armed conflict. While an increase in birdwatching based ecotourism has led to new opportunities for biodiversity conservation, deforestation has increased dramatically.

Renjifo advocates that at this critical juncture, while the overall risk of extinction of birds in Colombia is still relatively low and stable, effective action is urgently needed while there still is the opportunity to prevent extinctions and safeguard species.

About the speaker

Luis Miguel Renjifo, Ph. D. Professor at the School of Environmental and Rural Studies, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia.

A tropical ecologist and conservation biologist, Luis Miguel Renjifo has studied extinction risk in Colombian bird species since the late 80´s. His work on the effects of landscape change and composition on forest birds, and the development of management tools for biodiversity conservation in rural landscapes, led to the first establishment of biological corridors in South America. Renjifo also led the design of the first national strategy for the conservation of birds in Colombia.

Renjifo's current work involves studying the motivations of why people go birdwatching, collaborating with colleagues from the social sciences and engineering. He is an enthusiastic conservationist and birdwatcher.