Birder's Guide

MAY 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 37 of 51

36 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | May 2017 Community Conservation in Peru services so the communities here can capture their fair share of the tourism revenue flowing through their lands. "It is heartbreaking for us to see clients paying thousands of dollars for a trip to Peru while operators try to save by avoiding the few dollars in fees it would take to support the very resource they depend on for the long run," says Mike Parr, ABC's Chief Conservation Officer. "This is neither fair nor sustainable." Make a Difference The Vilcanota Mountains offer amazing opportunities for trekking, experienc- ing Andean culture, and birding as a stand-alone trip or as an add-on to visits to Machu Picchu and Cusco. If you go, make sure your tour operator supports local communities by paying the en - trance fee. Visitors can also support lo- cals by purchasing textiles as souvenirs. Respect these lands by taking only photos and leaving only footprints. Thousands of tour companies operate in this region. ECOAN recommends the following five as responsible agencies: Amazonas Explorer, Outlook Expeditions, LATA, Grupo Inka, and Discover Adventure. Several larger international bird tour companies use these ground agents, as well. You can also support this work with a tax-deductible donation through American Bird Conservancy. Inca culture. Group tree-planting efforts take place on these days, which help re- duce the labor costs of reforestation. Community-driven conservation works because people want to protect their for- ests and watersheds. They want their lands to be in better condition for their children. Where community demands for conservation align with bird conservation goals, there is tremendous opportunity to work together. Christopher Quispe Laucata is the president of the Rumira Sondormayo community, which has established the Qosqocahuarina Private Conservation Area. "The forest is our livelihood, and something we leave to our children as a legacy of our ancestors," he says. "Our forest sequesters carbon, so it helps us reduce global warming." The people of Rumira Sondormayo recognize that the forest "is the birthplace of our lakes and wetlands, and sustains our agriculture," he says. "Each year, we work to continue planting more trees with the support of ECOAN, because if we do not plant, we might not have water." More Work to Do As Laucata notes, forest conservation in the Vilcanota Mountains is ongoing. The Peruvian government is reviewing proposals for additional reserves, and ECOAN and ABC continue to help com- munities develop ecotourism. Besides creating a structure to collect and rein - vest admission fees charged for protected areas, the groups help communities with business plans and marketing strategies in consultation with tourism profession - als in the region. The goal is to assist the communities to make the most of the products and services they provide to visitors and, ultimately, sustain tourism as a viable source of local income. Some tourism operators, including Amazonas Explorer, actively support conservation work and tree-planting efforts. But some operators still bring groups of foreign tourists into the re- serves and communal lands without paying entrance fees. ECOAN and the reserve network are working to create consistent policies on entrance fees and

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