The Nature Foundation St. Maarten trains residents to become professional Birding Tour Guides.

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PHILISPBURG, Sint Maarten — In the last week of March, the Nature Foundation SXM will train interested residents to become certified birding tour guides for FREE as part of the Birding and Eco-tourism Project, which is being supported by the Resources for Community Resilience SXM (R4CR). By providing an opportunity for additional source of income, this project will not only benefit the guides but the economy as well. Thousands of visitors arrive on the island during the peak season, a large number from cruise ships, and many of them are fascinated by the local wildlife, particularly the avifauna or birds.

“The marine and terrestrial ecosystems of St. Maarten are beautiful, and one of the main reasons so many people love to visit the island each year,” said the Nature Foundation, “By providing more opportunities for both our visitors and our residents to view our nature in a sustainable and eco-friendly way we can lessen the pressure on our island.”

Eco-tourism is a growing global trend that St. Maarten can easily participate in. By utilizing this source of income, we can also raise awareness of the biodiversity on our friendly island. Both visitors and residents will be able to get the knowledge they need to make more environmentally conscious and deliberate decisions. This will positively impact the environment and pave the path for an island with a more sustainable future.

Education is necessary to promote this shift, and this training program will deliver it. The chosen residents will take part in a certified one-week training course where they will learn the crucial information required to conduct professional birding tours. To ensure that this project positively impacts as many stakeholders as possible, this information will be utilized and put into practice through public lectures and school visits.

“Training will be provided that will enable new bird guides to show their clients amazing areas of the island and the many important and unique bird species that live here. Birds are seen as indicator species, which means the general health of the environment can be predicted by looking at the health of the birds that live there. So, guides will also be trained on monitoring activities so they can report any changes, issues, or challenges they may find in the field,” said the Nature Foundation.

The R4CR program is funded by the Government of the Netherlands through the St Maarten Trust Fund, which was created 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 are interested in joining this free bird guide training reach out to the foundation at birdproject@naturefoundationsxm.org to reserve your space today!