Let’s face it: Coffee table books often lie on the table, mostly untouched unless you pick them up in a moment of boredom, flick through the pages, and put them down again. However, once you open Simply Antigua Barbuda, you will become immersed. It is far more varied than the average tourism publication, with a rich diversity of topics – from finely drawn sketches of the islands’ National Heroes to – yes, an article on Birding in Barbuda, and a strong focus on sustainable living and conservation for future generations. As its authors and publishers note, it is“designed to be dipped into” – not only to enjoy the gorgeous photographs but also to obtain detailed information on the history, culture and environment of the twin-island nation. And this 264-page, high-quality publication was all put together in six months!
The exquisite photographs portray the islands’ natural beauty, from the calm, unsullied blue of Barbuda’s Codrington Lagoon to hidden hiking trails and Antigua’s 365 famous beaches (“one for every day of the year”). An article authored by Daryl George, board member of Antigua’s Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), includes stunning close up photographs of Hawksbill and Leatherback Turtle hatchlings. EAG and BirdsCaribbean member Natalya Lawrence reminds the reader that there is much more to Antigua & Barbuda than beaches, focusing on the offshore islands. She describes the success of the Offshore Islands Conservation Programme, which has resulted in the removal of alien and invasive species and a surge in numbers in bird populations and native species in the past 20 years. Natalya also highlights the Floating Classroom program, which has opened the eyes of young Antiguans to natural wonders on their doorstep.
The section on Barbuda – a low-key tourism destination that has encountered environmental challenges – emphasizes the welcome move towards low impact, sustainable tourism and programs such as the Blue Halo Initiative, a collaborative coastal zoning project that is helping to protect the island’s fragile coastline and marine ecosystems. Barbuda has the largest Frigatebird Sanctuary in the western hemisphere. This extraordinary bird is among those highlighted in an article by EAG and BirdsCaribbean member Joseph (Junior) Prosper, edited by BirdsCaribbean’s Lisa Sorenson. Striking photographs by other BirdsCaribbean members (Andrea Otto, Binkie van Es and Ted Eubanks) of the supremely elegant West Indian Whistling-Duck, the Barbuda Warbler and other species enhance the text.
The book beautifully integrates tips on sustainable living with the many attractions Antigua has to offer – including cuisine. There are delicious recipes for the invasive Lionfish, and important information on the closed seasons for the Queen Conch, Parrotfish, Spiny Lobster and several other important marine species. Dr. Evelyn Weekes of the Agro-Ecology Society of Antigua describes several climate-smart projects that help to enhance the tourism product as well as the lives of Antiguans.
Joseph Prosper observes in his article Birds of Barbuda: “Let’s choose a tomorrow that does not succumb to the bulldozer but instead preserves this natural wealth for all to experience and enjoy.” This gem of a book reminds us of the fragility of the region’s island ecosystems, and the need to preserve them – not only for tourists.
The book is available to order online at this link.
The online version of the book can be viewed here.
By Emma Lewis, frequent blogger for BirdsCaribbean and member of BirdsCaribbean’s Media Working Group. Find me at Petchary’s Blog!