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International Tourism Initiative Launched To Save Endangered Birds

2,000 Bird Species in 12 Countries to Benefit

(Washington, D.C., February 17, 2010) American Bird Conservancy and its partners in 12 countries throughout the Americas have launched a new, international birdwatching tourism initiative called ‘Conservation Birding’ that is aimed at preventing the extinction of bird species. The initiative will help to finance bird reserves across the Americas by developing them as birding tourism destinations with lodges, trails, and other facilities for visitors.

The partners have already created thirty-six reserves, 18 of which have visitor accommodation on site. These reserves include more than 250,000 acres of critically important bird habitat, providing refuge for more than 2,000 bird species—nearly half of the total found throughout all the Americas. Some of the world’s most endangered birds are among them. These include the spectacular Lear’s Macaw, the Marvelous Spatuletail, and the enigmatic Long-whiskered Owlet. Many of the reserves also provide key wintering habitat for migratory song birds, such as the declining Cerulean Warbler, that nest in the United States.

“International birding travel is already popular, and we want more birders to know that their pastime can actually contribute to saving the species they love,” said Mike Parr, Vice President of American Bird Conservancy. “Visiting birders can provide a source of direct financial support to the reserves, helping them become self-sufficient and sustainable in the long-term.”A key component of this landmark effort is a new interactive website: http://www.conservationbirding.org. The site has been designed specifically to help visitors plan their birding trips to help conservation, by presenting detailed information on the reserves and ecolodges established by the conservation groups. A Google Earth component adds another dimension to the site, presenting suggested routes, photographs of lodges and birds, and videos of rare and interesting species.

“Birdwatchers in the U.S. contribute billions of dollars to the economy through the purchase of equipment, travel, books, and bird seed for backyard feeders,” said Parr. “The Conservation Birding initiative aims to tap into this market to cover the costs of managing habitat at each of these rare bird reserves.”

Eighteen of the reserves protect Alliance for Zero Extinction sites – the last refuges for some of the world’s rarest species. Not only are these places important for birds, but a new study has shown that they are often carbon stores, watersheds, and even cultural centers, since they exhibit high diversity among rare indigenous languages.One country where birding tourism is rapidly gaining popularity is Colombia, and one lucky group of birders recently made a special discovery when they found a previously unknown species of owl – the Santa Marta Screech-Owl – during an American Bird Conservancy-led bird tour to the El Dorado Reserve in the north of the country. Another previously unknown species of antpitta was recently discovered by local ornithologists at another of the Colombian reserves.

The partners plan to continue growing the reserve network, and just recently added two new municipal reserves in Bolivia. The work is supported by a range of donors including the Blue Moon Fund, Conservation International, the Jeniam Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, New York philanthropist Robert Wilson, and many additional individual donors. If you would like to help purchase land for a reserve, or support the conservation of the reserves in another way, please contact American Bird Conservancy at abc@abcbirds.org.

4th July 2014