Community of bird guides trainees from Camarones, after a workshop in Los Flamencos Sanctuary (August 2015).
Colombia is truly one of the most remarkable and compelling destinations for birders worldwide. With over 1,900 species of birds ‐ representing almost 20% of the planet's avian diversity ‐ Colombia has more bird species than any other country.
Thanks to recent dramatic improvements in the country's security situation, a boom in overall tourism, and convenient access from the United States, Colombia's bird-based tourism industry is poised to take flight. And to give it a lift, we're building the Northern Colombia Birding Trail.
The project is funded by USAID through Patrimonio Natural and executed by National Audubon Society along with in-country partner Calidris and support from the National Park Service, that aims to use birdwatching as a tool for economic development and biodiversity conservation in northern Colombia, home to three very important ecosystems: tropical dry forest, the Perijá mountain range, and the Santa Marta mountains.
By growing the market for international bird-based tourism in northern Colombia and improving local people's ability to cater to that market, Audubon and its partners can help preserve these endangered ecosystems. When communities from northern Colombia value birds and their habitat, they have an incentive to protect them and to manage them.
Building on Audubon's experience with birding trails in the United States, we've developed an outstanding bird guide training curriculum and have trained 44 local guides from three separate communities to lead birding tours. We're also building an interpretive trail and providing business training for stakeholders in the bird-based tourism value chain to help them deliver outstanding tours with great services through bird clubs.
Meet the Partners
Asociación Calidris, based in Cali, Colombia is among the leading bird conservation and research NGOs working in Latin America and the Caribbean. Calidris was founded in 1989 when a group of students from Colombia's Universidad del Valle's biology department decided to continue the work begun during their elective course on seabirds and shorebirds, under the guidance and supervision of Dr. Luis Germán Naranjo. Calidris' study of shorebirds began by monitoring birds during their annual arrival to the Buenaventura Bay. Currently, Calidris is advancing an expansive portfolio of bird conservation, monitoring and environmental education programs throughout the country. Since 2008 Calidris has worked with the National Park Service promoting capacity building in the study and conservation of birds to Park Rangers and communities around parks in the Colombian Caribbean Region. In 2014, Calidris' Executive Director Luis Fernando Castillo was awarded the country's top honor for a conservation professional leading a national conservation organization.
Patrimonio Natural is a Colombian Fund specialized in strategic investments for the conservation of nature and the services it provides, whose objective is to contribute to the conservation, use and sustainable management of biodiversity by strengthening the financial sustainability of the National System of Protected Areas of Colombia and other strategies of environmental planning for the conservation, sustainable use and management schemes under public, private or community governance.
The Northern Colombia Birding Trail Project is part of the Landscape Conservation Program (Programa Paisajes de Conservación, in Spanish), funded by USAID and implemented by Fondo Patrimonio Natural, that since 2013 has an emphasis on the Colombian Caribbean region, focusing on the conservation and sustainable use of tropical dry forest, fostering connectivity between remaining areas of forest and sustainable production systems, all of these in zones of influence of protected areas of different categories.
National Audubon Society is a non-profit environmental organization with a mission to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity.