BirdsCaribbean Cuba Conference Connects Scientists and Promotes Conservation

BirdsCaribbean members learn the latest in bird science and conservation.
BirdsCaribbean members learn the latest in bird science and conservation.

Over 240 scientists, teachers and conservationists came together in Cuba this month at BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference in Topes de Collantes Nature Reserve Park. Held every two years, it is the only time when this far-flung community has a chance to work face-to-face to improve how birds are studied and protected. The event included nearly 150 presentations and workshops over five days.

“This year’s theme was Celebrating Caribbean Diversity,” explained BirdsCaribbean Director Lisa Sorenson. “We love the variety of birds here, but the diversity of our members is even more important. We brought people here from dozens of islands. We have different cultures and languages, but we all face similar challenges. The chance to share ideas improves our work all over the region.”

Vegas Grande waterfall was one of the many amazing sites in Topes de Collantes. (Photo by Arnaldo Toledo)
Vegas Grande waterfall was one of the many amazing sites in Topes de Collantes. (Photo by Arnaldo Toledo)

BirdsCaribbean is the region’s largest conservation group. Programs like the Caribbean Endemic Bird Festival, which highlights birds found only in the region, reach over 100,000 people each year. At the conference, festival coordinators on different islands share ideas and activities. Others are inspired to launch festivals on their islands for the first time.

Researchers sharing their work give ideas that can help save birds. Members learn how birds recover after hurricanes or prosper when farmers plant shade trees over their coffee. Then they can bring bird-saving tools back to their own islands. This year, one highlight was the large number of Cuban scientists; 69 attended from all over the country.

“For almost 30 years, BirdsCaribbean has helped share the work of Cuban scientists with the rest of the world,” said BirdsCaribbean President Andrew Dobson. “Helping this collaboration has been a very rewarding part of our mission. It was also a joy to spend time with so many Cuban friends in one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful nature reserves.”

Program cover for BirdsCaribbean's 21st International Conference in Cuba. (design by Rolando Ata).
Program cover for BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference in Cuba. (design by Rolando Ata)

After five days of sharing stories and bird-sightings, members flew home to their islands. Each one brought back new skills and ideas. Tools developed on one island will soon be helping birds on others. Though many may do their work alone, they have friends and allies across the sea. In two years, the next conference will unite them again.

More information on the conference, including the program (file available for download), is available here.

BirdsCaribbean is very grateful to our local host organization, Sociedad Cubana de Zoologia, and  the organizations, agencies and companies operating in Cuba that provided a donation of services and/or products to assist in hosting the conference:
Conectando Paisajes
CPP-OP15 Manejo Sostenible de Tierras
Gaviota Grupo de Turismo Cuba
Havana Club
Instituto de Ecología y Sistemática
Agencia de Viajes San Cristóbal
Sociedad Cubana de Zoología

We would also like to thank the many other funders and contributors from other parts of the Caribbean and the U.S. that provided support of this conference. This support enabled a number of Caribbean nationals to attend and participate, and also helped to cover the many costs of holding this conference.
Audubon International Alliances Program
Blue Horizons Garden Resort
Caribbean Conservation Trust
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Eagle Optics
EasySky Airlines
MacArthur Foundation
Optics for the Tropics
Rare Species Conservatory Foundation
The Friendship Association
Vortex Optics
Wildside Nature Tours

See additional articles about the conference:
Coffee, Cave, and a Shot of Expresso
David Wingate Honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award
BirdsCaribbean Conference in Cuba to Highlight Tourism, Technology and More
Exciting Speakers Lined Up for BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference in Cuba
Cuba to Host BirdsCaribbean’s 21st International Conference