- National Avitourism Strategy2004 - 2006
- National Strategy Update2010
- Avitourism CoursesImbabura
- Community Made SouvenirsMilpe Bird Sanctuary
Avitourism: birding is our forte!
Birders are the first to find and open new destinations for other types of ecotourism, and we´ve lived it.
Ecuador’s national avitourism strategy was published in 2006 by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism, copyright MCF and CORPEI. This first-and-only of a kind document for Latin America outlines eco-scenic birding trails in different habitats around the country, and we all look forward to their continuing implementation with local partner organizations, local governments and the Ecuadorian Ministries of Tourism and Environment.
This strategy shows how rural communities can become active habitat defenders while tangibly benefiting from biodiversity, a true challenge for many birdy areas around the world. MCF and all of the various actors involved need support from other NGOs, individuals and tour companies to see that this strategy is carried out to its true potential. Bird clubs, Audubon chapters, willing donors and concerned citizens can all be a part of something new, something big!
It’s simple really, Ecuador can and should become ‘The Epicenter of World Birding’!
One concrete example of what we´re talking about is found in the 11+ year history of our Milpe Bird Sanctuary. In 2004 when we purchased the first piece of land, began restoring the degraded cattle pastures along its front edge, and began inviting birders to come check it out, there were precisely zero tourism services along the 12 km Milpe-Pachijal road spur. The road also was frequently used for contrabanding illegally cut timber, and was in a general state of decline.
Then after a handful of years, say in 2008, others took up the challenge as well and began investing in eco-tourism. Currently there are two additional eco-hotels along the road, several well-built weekend homes where marginal farmland is reverting to biodiverse forest and there are several other property owners plannning tourism projects. We don´t want to take all the credit, as the great natural setting and amazing biodiversity provide the opportunity, but we did lead the way. Really it´s the birds that made us do it. The first name for our Milpe project was “The Moss-backed Tanager Project” as the Milpe-Pachijal road was then the only known place to reliably find this bioregional endemic species. The same process happened in the valley of Mindo, where the first tourists to visit back in the eighties were birders — a couple of our members were the pioneers amongst them. Now about 90% of that town works in the eco-tourism trade, and major scale logging of what is now the Mindo-Nambillo Protected Forest was stopped.
This pattern has surely been repeated around the world time and again, and even if it doesn´t always work, it´s very much worth trying!