What’s being done to protect bird diversity in Ecuador?

Discover what it takes to provide safe havens for threatened birds, in a country with one of the worst environmental records in South America

Ecuador is one of the richest countries for bird diversity on the globe. There are 1,600 species in this small country, meaning that half the bird species of the entire continent of South America can be found in Ecuador.

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Despite this, deforestation and habitat degradation for agricultural is driving many species to extinction. While the oil industry and mining concessions play a role through severe water pollution and habitat damage. Then there is always the destruction caused by new roads that are continuously being opened in fragile areas.

In reaction to this threat, Fundación Jocotoco has created 10 reserves across the country, protecting 30,000 acres of habitat for threatened birds and a wealth of other wildlife – from spectacled bears and woolly tapirs, to pumas and jaguars.

Jocotoco’s reserves are all within Important Bird Areas (IBAs), designated by BirdLife International, and are known to support populations of over 800 species of birds. Of these species, over 50 are classified as Globally Threatened or Near Threatened, while more than 100 are restricted range or endemic – species found nowhere else on Earth.

The diversity and rarity of species found within the reserves attracts birders from across the world to Jocotoco’s eco-lodges: at the ready to tick off their Life Lists. For many countries, bird watching forms an important segment in local, regional, and national economies. In the United States alone, some US$82 billion are spent annually by 48 million birders on bird watching trips and equipment.

Jocotoco are playing a vital role in attracting these birders to Ecuador, benefiting the country’s economy and making a strong case for the conservation of its wilderness.

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