International

International Bird Ecotourism

Go birding with Audubon-trained guides to support conservation and sustainable development

Reddish Egret. Photo: Lindsay Addison/Audubon

International Bird Ecotourism

Go birding with Audubon-trained guides to support conservation and sustainable development

Our bird-based tourism work is focused on key areas along the flyways that are important for migratory and local species alike, where we can add an economic component that makes our conservation work more sustainable. Limited opportunities for income often drive local communities to engage in activities that degrade the natural resource base, such as illegal timber harvesting, poaching, or unsustainable development. Ecotourism is one economic alternative that can raise incomes in rural and poor communities living close to biodiversity-rich areas, while also helping to protect habitats for bird and other wildlife species. There is an estimated 48 million bird watchers in the United States, of which more than 17 million are willing to travel for birding activities. This makes bird tourism a high demand market, one that can drive conservation actions to protect degraded and threatened habitats and spur local sustainable development.

Working with local organizations in five countries, the National Audubon Society has partnered with the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) group, in the Bahamas, Belize, Guatemala and Paraguay, and the Patrimonio Natural and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Colombia to create high-value sustainable bird tourism projects in the Americas that capitalize on this growing industry to conserve natural and threatened habitats near rural areas, while also supporting poverty alleviation. The project partners with Bahamas National Trust, Belize Audubon Society, WildLife Conservation Society and Asociación Vivamos Mejor in Guatemala, Guyra Paraguay, and Patrimonio Natural and Asociación Calidris in Colombia to utilize the bird-watching market to create sustainable jobs in communities and protect the surrounding biodiversity and natural resources.

Continuing Success

The project has developed a general bird guide curriculum, with basic and advanced versions adapted to each country's specific needs in both English and Spanish, and trip itineraries for each country, built local capacity focused on community members and park staff, and implemented community education programs that support birds, the environment and the communities. Audubon and its partners work with governmental tourism agencies to design specific birding training courses for local guides and park rangers, and promote the inclusion of such curricula into national training and certification programs. And we engage with local, national, regional and international tourism agencies and associations, NGO’s and publications to market the destinations to the bird watching and nature-loving public.

Itineraries

Our suggested travel itineraries for The Bahamas, Belize, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Colombia incorporate something special--an opportunity to make you a partner in furthering international conservation efforts. The National Audubon Society's International Alliances Program and non-governmental organizationsour in-country partnershave teamed up to train birding and nature guides in several prime birding areas of these countries. Birders who choose to take these tours in order to see and enjoy the natural riches will have a direct economic impact on the local people, help to preserve Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and develop a vibrant ecotourism industry. 

Just by simply visiting conservation areas with our trained guides, you will help protect threatened bird habitats. 

Become a partner in helping Audubon's international conservation efforts to protect threatened bird habitats in The Bahamas, Belize, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Colombia. Birding is not only fun, it can also change lives. Be a part of it. 

Further Reading

Suggesting Birding Tour Operators
Instructions and Partner Organizations