1. Raising environmental awareness
Bolivia is one of the “poorest” nations in South America struggling with a weak economy, rapid population growth, and environmental destruction. This means the country is seeking ways to develop quickly.
Recent development centered around global precedents such as production of petroleum products, large scale farming and ranching, and destruction of natural resources such as timber. But there is another, more modern movement in Bolivia trying to follow a sustainable path.
Unfortunately, the reference base for this kind of cultural growth is very weak. Many Bolivians are neither aware that they live in one of the world’s biologically richest countries, nor that this may offer economic benefits in the way of sustainable ecotourism. This is why raising environmental awareness amongst our people is central to our mission.
2. Ecotourism supporting our economy
For many countries bird watching forms an important segment in local, regional, and national economies. In the United States alone, some US$82 billion are spent annually by 48 million birders on bird watching trips and equipment. Imagine what a tiny proportion of those funds could achieve in Bolivia.
The non-existence of a Bolivian bird guide keeps the country off the foreign bird watchers’ want list or discourages many from visiting Bolivia, simply because they would feel uncomfortable and insecure identifying birds without a proper guide covering the entire country.
Undoubtedly, the publication of a Bolivian bird guide will significantly increase the number of foreign birders that travel to Bolivia. In light of this, helping Bolivians improve their ecotourism ventures and the training of naturalist guides is an essential part of our vision.
3. Training of naturalist guides
Even the most talented Bolivian ornithology students know only a small portion of their nation’s bird species. Why?
Their continued learning is hampered by the lack of appropriate literature; the majority of field guides on birds are published solely in English and many Bolivian bird enthusiasts lack sufficient knowledge of the language.
This is assuming they can afford to buy a bird guide, which is unlikely. The average cost of most titles is equivalent to half the minimum monthly wage in Bolivia. Producing Spanish language natural history guides to Bolivia’s wildlife at an affordable cost is critical to increasing conservation knowledge and action.
Once we’ve achieved all this, we can begin creating a momentum for conservation action within Bolivia. This has the power to save numerous species and their habitats from becoming threatened with extinction.
What do we need for success?
The past eight years of our intermittent, ongoing work on the project have been completed with funds granted by:
- Swiss Development Agency COSUDE
- WWF Bolivia
- Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (through funds provided by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
- Fundación Amigos de la Naturaleza (FAN Bolivia)
- Swedish Ornithological Society
- Alfonso Escajadillo O’Connor
Despite the generous support of these organizations and individuals, we still need your help to reach the finish line. Help support this project today »