Birds are the animal group most used in environmental education and as a stimulus for nature preservation. They are always close to people, even in the heart of big cities. They are easily spotted, they represent freedom and they call attention for the beauty of their colors and voices.
With 1832 species registered so far, Brazil is considered the second richest country in the world in terms of bird variety, standing behind Colombia only. Our country also stands out for the number of endemic species, that is, species which do not appear in any other place in the world (over 200). In addition to its abundance, our bird fauna includes extremely beautiful species, such as the spectacular hyacinth macaws, toucans and tens of species of hummingbirds. With such exuberance, Brazil is one of the world’s paradises for bird watching, but its potential is not explored as in other countries – in Costa Rica and in Peru, bird watching tourism constitutes a significant portion of the national income.
For their part, birdwatchers are major disseminators of environmental protection. As they travel a lot after birds, they are the first to find important areas for conservation, and they get actively involved in the protection of the birds and of the environments which they depend on. In our country, the destruction of natural environments and the excessive use of agricultural poisons are causing an accelerated decline in the population of most birds, and there are already over 120 endangered species. We need to expand the number of birdwatchers and bird watching tourism, as a viable and economically sustainable activity from the environmental standpoint.
As part of its strategy to preserve wildlife and natural areas through scientific research and education, WCS created, in 2006, the Birds of Brazil Project,with the following goals:
– to arouse interest and love for the birds and their environments.
– to stimulate bird watching tourism as an economic activity, targeting not only foreign tourists but also national ones
– to stimulate community participation in actions of bird and environmental protection
– to support private and governmental initiatives in environmental education and bird protection.
The main action, within this project, is the drafting of the WCS Birds of Brazil Field Guide, a book series which will allow the recognition of birds from all over the country. To be published in two editions (English and Portuguese) and having regional scope, each volume contains virtually all the species which an observer will find within a certain area. Also, it includes a Conservation Chapter, whose aim is to show the reader how fascinating Brazilian natural landscapes are, thus highlighting that without a healthy environment most birds cannot survive.
In 2010 the first book, Pantanal& Cerrado, was released, the second one, Mata Atlântica do Sudeste (South-EastAtlantic Rainforest), was release in 2015. In 2017 we expect to release the third volume.
Other actions are:
– development of other materials for environmental education (posters,magazine articles)
– talks and short courses
– organization of workshops for the training of bird watching guides.