The mission of the Caribbean Bird Trail (CBT) is to create and promote nature-based, authentic experiences that engage visitors and locals with the unique birds of the Caribbean and connect them to the extraordinary places, diverse cultures and people of each island.
The CBT is a project of BirdsCaribbean (formerly the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds), a regional bird conservation organization. BirdsCaribbean, and its partners throughout the Caribbean region, are using the trail as a platform to reach audiences both local and international about the rich natural heritage of the Caribbean and its conservation imperative.
Through the CBT we also aim to stimulate high yield, low volume, and low impact tourism. Tourism of this sort strives to capture the economic impacts locally, and to empower local communities and small businesses to harness the tourism economy for their own direct benefit. This is in contrast to the mass tourism model of cruises and resorts that is widely adopted throughout the Caribbean. Unfortunately, mass tourism has a high impact both socially and environmentally, and a low yield economically for local people.
We therefore invite people to go on the Caribbean Birding Trail and explore what is beyond the beach.
A Hotspot of Biodiversity
The Caribbean region is a hotspot for biodiversity and has an astonishingly high level of endemicity. What this means is that there are hundreds of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and plant species that exist only on these islands. To protect this biodiversity, parks and protected areas have been established throughout the Caribbean.
Yet, many parks lack investment from the government in managing the park appropriately. As a result, these areas do not have interpretation and other types of tourism services and infrastructure necessary to attract visitors and show them the value of these places for recreation and for vital ecosystem services. Consequently, these areas are under-utilized, under-appreciated and perpetually threatened with development.
Our goal therefore, is to simultaneously invest in both the supply and demand side of sustainable tourism:
- Build the Supply: help CBT sites increase capacity for tourism, e.g., through infrastructure, guide training, etc.
- Build the Demand: connect the market to the resource through interpretation and promotion. e.g., CBT website.
Specific steps include:
- Assess resources and needs at CBT sites through field visits and meetings with community members, tourism interests, policy makers, and other stakeholders
- Develop an interpretive strategy for engaging audiences in the site’s resources. Return to country to present the draft plan to stakeholders for further input
- Build capacity by creating and/or enhancing trails, creating signs, training guides, developing tours and products, developing national and site-specific bird checklists, etc.
- Promote the sites through the CBT website, Facebook page, third party sites like TripAdvisor, attendance at trade fairs, and through other printed and electronic media
- Enable CBT sites to manage their own promotion through the development of press kits and customizable materials for reaching local audiences
- Raise funds for the CBT from a variety of sources
- Assist CBT sites with raising funds locally for their projects
- help create relationships between the private sector and the non-profit sector
- establish a Traveler’s Philanthropy program whereby visitors can give back to communities and conservation
- assist with grant writing
- utilize social media and crowd fundraising sites to provide a technical solution for accepting donations and raising funds.