Working with Pronatura Noroeste’s Conservation Education Program to connect shorebirds with the community in La Paz, Baja California Sur.

By: Víctor Ayala, CSF 2022

During my academic formation as a researcher, and especially within the Coastal Solutions Program, I have collaborated with different actors that support my project Strategy for conservation and management of two complementary environments in the Ensenada de La Paz,Baja California Sur, Mexico. The project aims to conserve shorebird populations and the wetlands they use, through science and community connection.

One of our main collaborators is Pronatura Noroeste, a non-profit organization whose mission is the conservation of flora, fauna and priority ecosystems, as well as promoting the development of society in harmony with nature. Together with the Bird Laboratory of the Autonomous University of Baja California Sur – UABCS Bird Lab, my host institution, we have worked alongside Pronatura Noroeste for over 20 years in different waterbird and wetlands conservation projects, with shorebirds as a particular focus, throughout Northwestern Mexico. Through this collaboration we have conducted different research and monitoring activities, contributed substantially to the creation of educational resources, and generated information that is valuable for decision-making in the conservation of birds.

Through environmental education we can generate new perceptions, attitudes, values, and practical skills in citizens, both in and out of school, cantered on biodiversity conservation. It is important to design environmental communication content and strategies that can promote a better understanding and adequate use of biodiversity. One of Pronatura Noroeste’s leading programs is Education for Conservation, include a wide range of materials to approach conservation through environmental education, based on the premise that this plays a crucial role in raising awareness and motivating people to implement conservation measures.

The use of educational materials in this field have proven to be productive in achieving these objectives. Materials such as Shorebirds and Wetlands: Teaching Strategies for their Conservation, developed in large part by Lizz González of Pronatura Noroeste, have been important in Ensenada de La Paz, since they have allowed us to approach the community in a very effective way.  Together we have developed workshops, talks, mural paintings, bird festivals, among other events.

These materials, which range from posters, manuals, and even interactive games, have the ability to convey information in an accessible and engaging way. In the case of bird conservation, these resources allow us to improve understanding on the importance of birds in ecosystems, the threats they face, and the various actions people can take to protect them.

Among the most significant benefits of these materials is their capacity to reach different audiences and demographics; from school children to adults throughout the community, including educators and service providers, as these resources can be tailored to meet the needs and levels of understanding of each group. This allows environmental education efforts to reach wider and more diverse audiences, which is essential for driving meaningful change in attitudes and behaviours towards conservation.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts with Pronatura Noroeste, the various activities of the Education for Conservation program became valuable tools for community involvement for the First Shorebird Festival of the Ensenada de La Paz, B.C.S., which took place on Friday March 22nd and Saturday March 23rd of 2024, and was a huge success with the community. We had the pleasure of engaging with around 500 people, including children and adults that participated in academic and field events. These resources allowed us to bring participants closer to the fascinating world of birds, in addition to offering the opportunity to explore, learn, and better understand their habitats to encourage respect for nature, as well as promoting the conservation of these species and their environment.

Coastal Solutions Fellowship Program

The Coastal Solutions Fellows Program builds and supports an international community to design and implement solutions that address coastal challenges across the Pacific Americas Flyway. Our main goal is to conserve coastal habitats and shorebird populations by building the knowledge, resources, and skills of Latin American professionals, and by fostering collaborations among multiple disciplines and sectors.