Saving the treasures of the Caribbean

Cuban Tody © J Lawrence

With the support of the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation, BirdLife has delivered exciting conservation results within some of the Caribbean’s most important biodiversity sites, with benefits also being realised for local communities. 

The Caribbean is a biodiversity hotspot – home to endemic plants and vertebrates amounting to at least 2% of the world total species count. Despite its importance for biodiversity, it retains only 11.3% of its primary vegetation (Myers et al. 2000), making conservation action important.

A project implemented by the BirdLife partnership with the support of the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation - Saving the Treasures of the Caribbean - aimed to implement essential conservation actions at six critical sites, where 29 of the region’s threatened birds and 81 endemic species are found. By the end of the project, Site Support Groups (SSGs) had been established or strengthened at all of the sites, providing new conservation capacity on the ground. Some very poor communities have been helped to find alternative livelihoods, improving their incomes and taking the pressure off natural resources and biodiversity.

A shorebird-friendly brine shrimp farm was established at Cabo Rojo Salt Flats, part of Puerto Rico’s Suroeste Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). Administered by the SSG, this is generating income to support research, education and management of the IBA.

In the Dominican Republic, AVJCF support enabled BirdLife Affiliate Grupo Jaragua to develop the ecotourism potential of the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve, which contains three IBAs. AVJCF funds were used to repair damaged tourist facilities, and provide training and equipment for 24 eco-guides and all members of SSGs.

In Jamaica, a local NGO coordinated AVJCF-funded work to protect habitat in the karst limestone Cockpit Country, which embraces three IBAs. The project has restored native forest, improved communication between local communities, government and funding agencies, and built a constituency opposing bauxite mining, the main threat to Cockpit Country. There is growing confidence that the core area, at least, will be protected from mining.

There is huge ecotourism potential in the IBAs of the Bahamas. With AVJCF support, BirdLife Partner the Bahamas National Trust has worked with communities to make Blue Holes National Park the flagship park in Central Andros, and is developing participatory management plans for all the Andros national parks.

BirdLife’s Cuban Affiliate Centro Nacional de Areas Protegidas and their local collaborators have developed demonstration agroforestry plots and a tree nursery, to assist in ecosystem restoration in the Turquino and Bayamesa National Parks IBA. A new ecotourism centre has been established, which will double as an environmental education centre.

In the buffer zone of Macaya National Park, Haiti, Société Audubon Haiti (SAH) is working with communities to provide sustainable livelihoods as part of a broader conservation and development initiative. This area suffered badly in the 2010 earthquake, and the scope of the project was widened to help the community recover. The piped water supply to the villages of Formon and Durand has been repaired; previously children had to walk for up to three hours to find water. A school has been renovated and staffed with eight teachers. The newly-established women’s organisation provides lodgings for visitors, who spend an average of US$50 each in a community where average earnings are $1 a day.

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Pridham, C. and Langley N. (2013) Living landscapes for nature and people. Celebrating the conservation work of the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation and the BirdLife Partnership. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International Pg. 40-41 

Compiled: 2015    Copyright: 2015   

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2015) Saving the treasures of the Caribbean. Downloaded from on 25/09/2023