Tjalle Boorsma is a Dutch biologist who left his homeland to project the critically endangered Blue-throated Macaw in Bolivia, of which only 400-450 individuals are left in the wild. Tjalle discovered their previously unknown nesting sites and gained crucial information for designing a conservation programme for these amazing birds. Key to this is the development of strategies with private cattle ranchers to assure landscape scale conservation, adopting sustainable best-practice ranching techniques that demonstrate improved productivity and economic revenues. He also combined all the gathered information to mimic breeding habitats for the macaws in Barba Azul with a pioneering design of a penthouse nestbox. In addition, Tjalle coordinated the purchase of a 680 ha reserve protecting crucial breeding habitat.
Tjalle studied Forest- and Nature Conservation in Wageningen, the Netherlands. During his Master thesis in Bolivia in 2011, he saw first-hand the incredible natural diversity of this country, and how it was being destroyed at an alarming rate. In 2015 Tjalle decided to leave behind the comfort of his homeland and moved to Bolivia to stop the decline of Bolivia’s most threatened birds, the Blue-throated Macaw of which only 400-450 individuals are left in the wild.
In the Barba Azul Nature Reserve he studied the macaw, and worked with private landowners to protect the macaws’ breeding habitat. Alongside a newly initiated education programme, he combined all the gathered information to mimic breeding habitats for the macaws in Barba Azul with a pioneering design of a penthouse nestbox. In addition, Tjalle coordinated the purchase of a 680 ha reserve protecting crucial breeding habitat.
Vision and Approach
Tjalle is convinced that a beautiful large single species can trigger behavioural change in humans, generate willingness to protect larger landscapes, and entire ecosystems. The Bolivian endemic, Critically Endangered Blue-throated Macaw is such a flagship species.
The Macaw shares its habitat with private cattle ranchers, the most important economic activity of this region. The creation of protected reserves conserving key habitat is an important strategy. Even more important is developing out-of-the-box strategies with the private cattle ranchers to assure much larger landscape scale conservation. Tjalle is out there to convince these business minded stakeholders to adopt sustainable best-practice ranching techniques by showing hands-on results through a model ranch that will demonstrate improved productivity and economic revenues, whilst protecting habitat.
Impact of the Future For Nature Award
With the FFN Award prize money Tjalle will:
- develop a large-scale sustainable ranching programme with private land owners to halt grass land conversion to soya plantations, to stimulate low impact ranching and to halt annual burning of Blue-throated Macaw habitat;
- protect and improve natural breeding and foraging areas and create new breeding sites in protected reserves;
- Be able to ensure landscape scale conservation of the seasonally flooded Beni savanna ecoregion home to home to the endemic Blue-throated Macaw of which currently only 450 individuals are left in the wild.
“Tjalle successfully combines rigorous science, passion for conservation, community engagement and out-of-the-box thinking to achieve the impossible. His level of commitment is truly incredible. Tjalle clearly has a special way to communicate with - and gain the trust of - the local ranchers; engaging them in conservation is the only way to save the Blue-throated Macaw from extinction.”Simon Stuart, International Selection Committee