From Argentina to Romania and Ghana to France, discover over 80 birding ecotours working to support conservation, local communities and education.
With worldwide tourism growth surpassing predictions, businesses and travellers can help make it a positive force for people and planet.
The number of international tourist arrivals totalled 1.4 billion in 2018, a full two years ahead of forecasts by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
Ecotourism is a fast-growing tourism sector, already worth USD 100 billion annually. According to The International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is responsible tourism to natural areas that conserves the environment, supports the well-being of local people and educates visitors and hosts.
Done right, ecotourism can be a force for good, channelling resources to protect the places and species people seek to experience; creating employment opportunities for local people who need them most; and valuing and preserving local culture.
Done poorly, ecotourism can put unsustainable pressure on wildlife and habitats, distort the local economy and change local customs and cultures irrevocably.
To help birding travellers make informed choices promote great business practices, Terra Incognita curated the Top Ethical Birding Ecotours 2019 list, featuring amazing tours that seek to conserve the environment, support local people and educate guests and hosts.
First launched in 2018, the second annual list has grown to include over 80 tours in 40 countries across six continents.
“With every new tour we discover, we’re amazed to see what operators are doing to have a positive impact on the planet through tourism. Eventually we hope to showcase ethical tour experiences in every country worldwide”, said Dr Nick Askew, co-Founder of Terra Incognita and Director of Conservation Careers, who has 10 years’ experience working for conservation charity BirdLife International.
The list is generated by a global community of travellers, bloggers, conservationists, tours guides, birders and ecotourism operators. It includes a transparent explanation of how all tours contribute to conservation, local communities and education and is open to reviews from guests who’ve participated in the tours.
“It’s exciting to discover ecotourism operators that see sustainability as a fundamental way of doing business, rather than just a marketing strategy or checklist”, said Kristi Foster, co-Founder of Terra Incognita, who spent eight years experience working in conservation and sustainable development internationally.
“Instead of taking away from a tour, guests get to join in that creative, innovative process. These tours are experiences where everyone involved learns and grows”, she added.
Tour operators on the list are doing everything from partnering with conservation charities and donating to conservation projects, to offsetting the carbon emissions generated by their business activities and encouraging their guests to do the same during their travels.
Some are contributing to conservation research, while others are empowering local people through environmental education and capacity building, supporting future conservation ambassadors.
The Top Ethical Birding Ecotours 2019 list was launched alongside Birdfair on 16-18 August 2019, an annual event for birdwatchers that supports BirdLife International.
Bird experiences highlighted range from Golden-collared Manakin leks in Panama, to reintroduced blue ducks in New Zealand, to searching for Uganda’s iconic Shoebill by canoe. You can even see the autumn Vulture migration across the Strait of Gibraltar, with as many as 2,300 birds recorded in a single hour.
With tours in over 40 countries you can find inspiration to explore a new corner of the world or discover an ethical experience closer to home.
Explore the Top Ethical Birding Ecotours 2019 list and join a movement to create positive change for people and planet through travel.