During the three days, WLT’s stand was buzzing with activity, and the Trust went on to win first prize for Best Conservation Stand.
“Birdfair is a highlight of the wildlife-lovers calendar and an important event for WLT and its partners,” said Kelly Jacobs, who coordinates WLT’s stand at Birdfair. “It puts the Trust’s conservation projects and partners firmly in the public eye, attracting interest from hundreds of people united by a love of wildlife and a concern for conservation.”
WLT has attended Birdfair every year for the past decade and, as in previous years, the energy and enthusiasm of the Trust’s overseas programme partners proved infectious.
Rodrigo Zaraté, Sites and Conservation Units Manager for Guyra Paraguay, and Bennett Hennessey, Executive Director for Asociación Armonía, Bolivia, both of whom made the most of chatting to visitors about ecotourism and bird watching activities in their respective countries.
Ecotourism and conservation
Income from ecotourism has the potential to be a significant source of funding for conservation in WLT’s partners’ reserves. At Birdfair the direct link between ecotourism and conservation clearly differentiated Guyra Paraguay and Asociación Armonía from other tour operators.
For Rodrigo, Birdfair was a great opportunity to talk to the public about conservation activities in reserves supported by WLT.
“I want to thank World Land Trust for giving me the opportunity to show people the results of our work together. People who support WLT are supporting conservation in our country, and I hope some will be able to visit Paraguay and see it for themselves,” he said.
Birdfair was equally beneficial for Asociación Armonía. Bennett said: “We had a great experience at the British Birdfair this year in 2014. It was a good chance to meet up with many new birdwatchers, also people interested in Bolivia and who’ve seen the idea of what Bolivia has to offer - 1,425 species of birds!”
Bennett also remarked on the value of the event for marketing ecotourism holidays in Bolivia: “It was a good opportunity to meet up with some of the companies that will be bringing tourists to Bolivia and to let them know about some of the new advances, including the three lodges that’ve been built in the past two years.”
Other WLT partners had their own stands at the event - Nature Kenya, Reserve Ecológica de Guapi Assu (REGUA) and Fundación ProAves – and there were plenty of opportunities for socialising and exchange of information between representatives of WLT and partner organisations during the fair and after hours.
John Burton, Chief Executive of World Land Trust, said: “I am delighted that we had such a successful Birdfair in our 25th year, especially as we have been taking part in the event for 10 years. We are particularly grateful to our wonderful partners from Bolivia and Paraguay for travelling from South America to join us. Bennett, Rodrigo and our other programme partners are working on the conservation frontline and in the years to come WLT will continue to do all we can to support their work in protecting threatened habitats, acre by acre.”
Friends and supporters
Among the WLT Friends who visited the stand was David Cohen, recently returned from a trip to Ecuador. For the second year running, David donated a pair of binoculars, to go to a WLT project partner. He and his wife will be visiting REGUA later in the year.
Another visitor to the stand was Sigrid Shreeve, author of Jabujicaba, who spent time talking to John, Bill Oddie and Kelly about her campaign to bring Brazil’s forests and wildlife to the attention of more people and raise funds for REGUA through her book.
Bill Oddie and Sarah Class performed A Musical Flight in the events marquee on 16 August. The event, which included music and film, was based on A Musical Safari, which was first performed in aid of World Land Trust at Halesworth Arts Festival in 2013.
A Musical Flight was well received and Birdfair organiser, Tim Appleton, suggested that the performance could be repeated next year. He also expressed interest in WLT’s contributing more musical events in future.
Several of WLT’s corporate supporters contribute to WLT’s stand at Birdfair.
Wild Travel, WLT’s 25th Anniversary media partner, offered free media coverage and promoted the magazine on the stand.
Swarovski Optik donated a pair of pocket binoculars as a competition prize. The competition was a great attraction and many people visited the stand specifically to enter. There were 167 correct entries and Shaun Malin was the lucky winner.
Swarovski Optik also sponsored a reception to celebrate WLT’s 25th Anniversary with champagne and a magnificent cake decorated with the Trust’s logo and a pair of binoculars.
The sale of books and cards brought in more than £300 and donations to the Trust were up on last year at just under £500. We are very grateful to Paul Best and Puro Coffee who encouraged visitors to make a donation to the Trust in exchange for a cup of coffee.
Birdlife of the World
WLT prepared a film especially for Birdfair 2014. Entitled Birdlife of the World, the film celebrates the wealth and diversity of bird species in nature reserves created with the support of the Trust. The film was a compilation of video clips made by WLT project partners, staff and supporters.