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Engage People

5. Engage People in Conservation Action

Although people in all three of our countries value our shared birds and environment, in many cases the connections between people and birds could be better harnessed for bird conservation. We must motivate people to recognize the costs and benefits of alternate futures, make behavioral changes, and take conservation actions at every geographic and political scale. Through their actions, humans continue to threaten birds, often unknowingly. Conservation strategies to meet the goals of our tri-national vision must include mechanisms to involve people in creating and implementing solutions, and must include direct benefits to society.


ArizonaStudents_p32.jpg   MexicoCityConservation_p32.jpg
Students from an inner city outings
club learn from a researcher about
grassland birds and ecosystems as
she bands a wintering sparrow in southeastern Arizona.
  “Kicking the dirt,” bird conservationists share information about birds and learn about landowners’ needs as part of the community-driven Sierra Madre Sparrow conservation project near Mexico City.

Photo by Narca Moore-Craig


Photo by Eduardo Iñigo-Elias 

Strategic Education

Education, outreach, and communication are vital tools for achieving bird conservation goals. Collaboration between educators and conservationists will enhance strategies to focus on critical conservation actions through appropriate messages and delivery mechanisms. Education objectives need to be tied specifically to conservation objectives, focusing on the highest priority species and habitats. Outreach should take advantage of innovative technologies, such as podcasts and blogs, and advances in social marketing to “sell” bird-related ideas in a way that focuses on what the consumer wants. We will need to work more closely with a variety of stakeholders, such as producers, industry, policymakers, business communities, and First Nations, Native American, and indigenous peoples to implement bird-friendly agriculture and forestry practices. Articulating measurable outcomes and evaluating the impact of outreach programs will allow us to continually improve.

Social networking sites connect people
interested in bird conservation as a
community. The Partners in Flight Facebook
page recruited over 600 members within
two weeks of its creation.
International Capacity

With limited resources devoted to education and outreach, sharing products and programs increases the capacity of providers, shifting resource expenditure from program development to implementation. Consistent messaging among groups and countries will yield greater impact. Sharing existing resources allows education programs on limited budgets to be far more strategic in meeting conservation education goals. We encourage broader use of resource directories, such as the Avian Index, by educators in all three countries, providing a new influx of ideas and encouraging full stewardship of shared birds. Translation of education and outreach materials into appropriate languages allows for greater impact.

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Thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas add their yearly counts to the Christmas Bird Count, one of the longest-running citizen science datasets—now spanning more than 100 years. The long-term perspective on bird population trends helps inform strategies to protect birds and their habitats—including this report.    Ornithological research and bird-based environmental education programs in the Ayuquila River, Jalisco, sparked a river and riparian conservation program that transformed into Mexico´s first inter-municipal watershed conservation agency. The migratory Belted Kingfisher has been an effective symbol for the citizen volunteer program and local government alliance.
Photo by Ashley Dayer   Photo by Gabriela Perez Carrillo

Engage More People in Citizen Science

Citizen science offers cost-effective tools for bird monitoring, education, and outreach among scientists, policy-makers, and birders. Besides providing valuable data for bird conservation, volunteer citizen scientists enhance their knowledge of birds, as well as their conservation involvement. The North American Breeding Bird Survey and the Christmas Bird Count, which rely entirely on volunteer birders, provide some of our best knowledge of long-term bird population trends. The online program eBird is rapidly improving knowledge of seasonal bird distribution, with more than 100,000 checklists submitted per month in 2010. All of these projects need expanded coverage throughout our three nations, particularly in Mexico and less populated areas of Canada and Alaska.

Promote the Economic Benefits of Bird Conservation

Conservation solutions that ensure long-term protection of birds and their habitats must also provide economically viable options for people, communities, and industry. Successful models in all three countries illustrate the economic benefits of sustainable land-use practices that allow birds to co-exist with people. Providing bird-friendly economic opportunities for local people is particularly critical for reducing threats in and around protected areas for species at greatest risk of extinction. For example, tourism and bird-guide training can help link ecotourism providers with local guides and provide alternate livelihoods. At larger scales birding festivals, such as International Migratory Bird Day, and birding trails (e.g., allow rural communities to realize income by attracting tourists.

CoffeeSupportsBirds_p33.jpgCoffee supports birds, habitat, and people

Many people in the tropics rely on coffee crops for their livelihood. Whereas modernized coffee growing has become more intensive on the land and detrimental to birds, shade grown coffee certification has encouraged a return to the traditional agroforestry system. Fair trade
certification supports local communities and discourages conversion of tropical forest. Coffee drinkers can buy certified coffees with the assurance that these forested farms provide habitat to not only migratory birds, but also resident species. For example, through partnerships with organizations and local people and export to international markets at fair trade prices, there are now 1,800 producers of certified coffee in the Biosphere Reserve at El Triunfo
Photo by Jose Guadalupe Pérez Gómez

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