ENVIRONMENT: Becoming a professional birdwatching guide is possible thanks to “Nature Foundation SXM”!

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During the last week of March, “Nature Foundation SXM” will teach interested residents to become certified birdwatching tour guides free of charge as part of the birdwatching and ecotourism project, supported by SXM ( R4CR).

By providing an opportunity for an additional source of income for future guides, this project will benefit not only the guides but also the economy. Thousands of visitors arrive on the island during the high season, a large number of cruise ships, and many of them are fascinated by the local fauna, especially the avifauna or the birds. “The marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Saint-Martin are magnificent.

It's not surprising to see so many people visiting the island each year,” says Nature Foundation SXM. “By providing more opportunities for our visitors and residents to see our nature in a sustainable and eco-friendly way, we can reduce the pressure on our island.

Ecotourism is a growing global trend that Saint-Martin can easily participate in. By using this source of income, we can also raise awareness of the island's biodiversity. Visitors and residents will be able to gain the knowledge they need to make more environmentally responsible and deliberate decisions. This will have a positive impact on the environment and pave the way for an island with a more sustainable future.”

Education is needed to promote this change, and this training program will do just that. Selected residents will participate in a one-week certified training course where they will learn the crucial information needed to conduct professional birding visits. To ensure that this project has a positive impact on as many stakeholders as possible, this information will be used and put into practice through public lectures and school visits.

“Training will be provided which will allow new bird guides to show their clients incredible areas of the island and the many important and unique species of birds that live there. Birds are considered indicator species, which means that the general health of the environment can be predicted by looking at the health of the birds that live there. Thus, the guides will also be trained in monitoring activities so that they can report any changes, problems or challenges they may encounter in the field,” specifies Nature Foundation SXM.

The R4CR program is funded by the Government of the Netherlands through the St Maarten Trust Fund, which was established to provide assistance to the island after the devastating Hurricane Irma in 2017. The R4CR program is implemented by VNG International and supervised by the World Bank.

If you would like to participate in this free bird guide training, contact the foundation at the following address: birdproject@naturefoundationsxm.org to reserve your place today! _AF

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