Birding tourism is thriving in Ecuador, with increasing numbers of specialist tour groups, local bird guides and wildlife lodges. The country boasts more than 1,600 different species – almost twice as many as the whole of Europe – in an area only slightly larger than the UK. As the business of birding grows, more and more subsistence farmers are transitioning their land from agriculture to bird reserves, benefitting not just the birds, but the country’s economy too. Angie Drake, a sustainable tourism consultant in the US, says by improving biodiversity and reaching out to wildlife tourists, some farmers have expanded their land’s potential far beyond the traditional farming model. “They are finding ways to balance profitability with environmental stewardship. This innovative approach offers a blueprint for other farmers wanting to reconsider their relationship with the land,” Drake said.

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