Starting in 2017, Team Rockjumper has united with the National Audubon Society to drive sustainable tourism in select biodiverse hotspots through Impact Adventures.
Focusing on areas in Latin America and the Caribbean, Audubon has identified areas likely to attract birders and wildlife-seekers by layering maps of Important Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) over poverty maps. Their findings led them to zero-in on The Bahamas, Belize, Colombia, Guatemala, and Paraguay. The target areas include some of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, many of which host migrating species that breed in the US and Canada.
The central question they sought to answer was: how do we encourage communities to value ecosystems enough to protect them, and in turn have these ecosystems contribute to the economic well-being of the communities? The answer, they discovered, was ecotourism.
Audubon and its partners developed a naturalist guide-training curriculum tailored to local cultures and languages, as well as basic business, hospitality, and language training. The objectives are to develop the capacity for ecotourism and to create a network of community-based birding destinations that offer skilled local birding guides, high-quality interpretation and lodging, food, and related goods and services tailored to the birding market. Now Audubon urges birdwatchers to consider a vacation that will help struggling communities in and around protected areas.
To date, over 275 men and women have attended basic guide training and more than 70 have completed advanced training through Audubon’s Bird-Based Tourism Initiative. Over 400 local business owners have participated in training, and 5,500 children have attended environmental education classes. The project has boosted citizen science initiatives and increased the number of new eBird users who now contribute data to an online database of bird observations, which supports IBA monitoring.
Now, Audubon and Rockjumper Birding Tours have partnered the aim of taking the next step to fulfil both the dreams of the birding community—who want to enjoy the fauna and flora of these megadiverse regions—and those of the community members, who will benefit from these eco-tourists and, in turn, ensure the survival of these critical habitats.
We hope that you will consider joining Rockjumper on a birding and wildlife Impact Adventure to The Bahamas, Belize, Guatemala, Colombia or Paraguay. Please contact George and Karina in our Conservation Tours Department at firstname.lastname@example.org to begin your journey.