Fifth festival for Caribbean birds
Conservation organisations throughout the Caribbean are launching the fifth annual month-long celebration of the regionís unique bird life this weekend.
The Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival runs from April 22nd, "Earth Day," until May 22nd, "International Biodiversity Day," and is coordinated by the Society for the Conservation and Study of Caribbean Birds (SCSCB), which works closely with BirdLife's Caribbean Programme. Activities will range from exhibitions of drawings and paintings by local schoolchildren, public lectures, photographic exhibitions, church services, bird-watching excursions, and theatrical productions in celebration of the region's rich bird life.
In the first four years of the annual Festival, more than 17,000 persons participated directly, while thousands of others have learned about the bird life and overall biodiversity of the Caribbean through regional media houses, magazines, and the internet.
Dr. Lisa Sorenson, Caribbean Ornithologist and Professor in the Department of Biology, Boston University, USA and Vice-president of the Society said, "The Caribbean is blessed with an amazing diversity of birdlife. More than one in five Caribbean bird species are found nowhere else on the planet. In addition to these many endemics, the islands also provide a home for many migratory species, which may spend up to nine months of the year here. The residents and migrants all depend on the food, water, and shelter that is provided in our forest, scrub and wetland habitats. It is the responsibility of every Caribbean national to cherish and protect these beautiful birds and their habitats. The festival is a wonderful opportunity to call attention to and celebrate our collective natural heritage."
"This Festival is a celebration of the Caribbean's birds - a unique and irreplaceable aspect of our collective life and culture. In the face of climate change and other ominous environmental threats, both wide-scale education and conservation action is imperative to secure our biodiversity." —Andrew Dobson, President of SCSCB
Members of the international conservation community have called the Festival an unprecedented opportunity for education and the generation of pride in what is uniquely Caribbean biodiversity. They have also noted that this is an important call for greater responsibility to safeguard the wider Caribbean environmentís valuable natural assets, to prevent wide-scale extinction and support sustainable development.
The month-long annual Festival is highlighting the fact that the Caribbean islands are recognised as one of the top three areas on the planet for biodiversity conservation, because of the high number of endemic plant and animal species. Sadly, the birds of the region are today more threatened than they have ever been in their history, primarily due to destruction of their habitats and climate change.