Rob Clay has been active in migratory bird conservation in the Western Hemisphere for more than 20 years. A native of the United Kingdom, his interest in Neotropical birds and conservation began during an undergraduate expedition to Paraguay in 1992, which led to Ph.D. studies of manakins in Costa Rica and Panama.
Prior to joining the WHSRN Executive Office (and Manomet) in May 2014, Rob worked for BirdLife International as Senior Conservation Manager in the Americas Secretariat. There, he led the development of conservation programs for a wide variety of migratory birds, including shorebirds and particularly globally threatened species. He was instrumental in building BirdLife’s Southern Cone Grasslands Alliance, a coalition of cattle ranchers, government agencies, research institutions, and conservation organizations working together in the South American Pampas grasslands.
Through his role at BirdLife, Rob worked closely with WHSRN staff and site partners over the years. He also served on the WHSRN Hemispheric Council, and is a past Chair of the Waterbird Conservation Council, and former Vice President of the Heron Specialist Group (HeronConservation). He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Initiative, the Steering Committee of the Pacific Americas Shorebird Conservation Strategy, the Americas Steering Committee of the Arctic Migratory Bird Initiative, and a Conference of the Parties Appointed Scientific Councilor for Birds to the Convention on Migratory Species.
In 1997, Rob helped found Guyra Paraguay – now the country’s leading conservation NGO, and he has calledParaguay home ever since (except for two years in Ecuador). Rob and his family live in Asunción, where he conducts regular monitoring of shorebirds at the Asunción Bay WHSRN site.
Isadora is Colombian by origin and joined the Manomet team in May 2018 as Shorebird Conservation Specialist in the WHSRN Executive Office. She is in charge of promoting the incorporation of shorebirds within national conservation agendas, assessing the uses of resources at WHSRN sites, and building the capacity of partners in ecosystem service assessments. Isadora has been working on the conservation of birds in Colombia and throughout the Western Hemisphere for over 15 years.
Isadora gained her conservation experience through working on research in the field and through engaging with communities in her native Colombia as part of Asociacion Calidris, moving later to South-east Asia to work in conservation of endangered and traded species. Before joining Manomet Isadora worked since 2011 for the BirdLife International Americas Secretariat as the Americas Flyways Coordinator, including representing BirdLife on the WHSRN Hemispheric Council. At BirdLife she supported the development of conservation programs for grassland birds and migratory birds including globally threatened migratory birds, she also developed and help build BirdLife Partners’ capacities on ecosystem services assessments at site scale.
Isadora is a biologist with a major on ornithology from Universidad del Valle in Colombia, completed a Diploma in Endangered Species Management at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, and University of Kent (UK) and holds a Master in Conservation Leadership from the University of Cambridge (UK).
I am proud of being part of the Manomet team as I believe biodiversity conservation depends on multidimensional approaches, and Manomet is a place where such approaches are developed. The approaches for biodiversity conservation that Manomet develops have their bases on the best science, research effort, community engagement, land management and land use planning, and strategic partnerships. What conservationist would not want to be part of such an extraordinary team and organization?
“I work at Manomet because – at the end of the day – to conserve our natural resources and biodiversity in the Americas, we need to develop collaborative processes, build partnerships, and reach agreements. At Manomet, we are building the science, the relationships, and the dialogue needed to achieve this.”
Conserving shorebird habitat also means ensuring the health of the human environment we live in, and good governance might be the most important factor to reach the goals of sustainable development. From his office in Santiago, Chile, Diego has been leading various collaborative processes since 2009 – through building dialogues, alliances, and connections that support the conservation of sites in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN), from the Arctic to Patagonia. These processes involve the participation of communities, NGOs, decision makers, public and private sectors, universities and research institutions. In the equation of good governance, no one is superfluous.
Diego has vast experience conducting conservation processes, managing multilateral projects, plans, and conservation strategies (local, national, and international), building capacities, facilitating the exchange of experiences and networking between WHSRN sites. His experience in dialogue and governance ranges from themes of biodiversity conservation to social-environmental conflicts, energy, and climate change.
Diego was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, but has lived in Chile for 22 years. Before starting with the WHSRN Executive Office, Diego led the process to nominate Bahía Lomas (in Tierra del Fuego, Chile) as a WHSRN site – the most important wintering site in all of South America for the threatened Red Knot, and the first WHSRN site in Chile.
Other highlights on Diego’s professional path have been positions such as researcher for the program “Conflict and Collaboration for Natural Resource Management in Latin America and the Caribbean,” with University for Peace, Project Director for the Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (Latin American Future Foundation), Chile Country Project Manager for the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), and former advisor to the National Petroleum Company of Chile, for their Environment and Corporate Legal Affairs departments.
Manomet brings together people from across the entire hemisphere for conservation, and has an incredible legacy of working with sound science and dedicated people to make a difference. Addressing the challenges that shorebirds face necessitates this wide-ranging, multi-faceted approach, and I’m working with Manomet because I believe that in being a part of this team, I can help make a difference.
The Georgia Bight is a region with incredible habitat for shorebirds throughout the year, ranging from expansive marshes, mud flats, and sand bars, to undeveloped barrier island beaches which provide sites for nesting, feeding and roosting. The Georgia Bight Shorebird Conservation Initiative is part of the Shorebird Habitat Management Program, and focuses on advancing progress for sustaining shorebird populations within the Atlantic Flyway by increasing attention to the Southeast. By working with the stakeholders actively involved in shorebird conservation, identifying research and management objectives, building education and outreach efforts, and increasing partnerships, we will achieve measurable progress for shorebirds along the South Carolina, Georgia and Northern Florida coasts.
I recently earned my doctorate from the University of Georgia, where I studied how habitat and landscape features influence beach nesting shorebirds and chick survival. Prior to working on my degree, I lived on Little St. Simons Island in Georgia, where I worked as a naturalist guide and assisted on a variety of environmental projects, educated visitors about coastal ecology, and explored the Southeastern coast. Before migrating south, I grew up in Western New York and attended SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry for my B.S. in environmental biology.
When I’m not birding or working, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, going on adventures, learning new things, and snuggling my dog, Baxley.