Farmers Saving Bird Habitat

Yellow-throated Euphonia

Yellow-throated Euphonia at Los Tarrales

I just returned from a wonderful visit to Guatemala on a birding FAM trip, where I had the opportunity to visit many coffee fincas and other farms. It’s so exciting to see farmers working hard to protect bird habitat, and making that an important part of their operation.

While there I had the pleasure of meeting Claudia Garcia and Vicky Rios, two biologists from the Guatemala Birdwatching Roundtable working to preserve bird habitats in this beautiful country.

Claudia Garcia and Vicky Rios of Guatemala Birdwatching Roundtable

Claudia Garcia and Vicky Rios

I was visiting Los Tarrales, a coffee and ornamental plant finca on the slope of the Atitlan Volcano, and a must-see stop on any birdwatching tour of Guatemala. Claudia and Vicky were there for a meeting of the Roundtable.

Los Torrales Finca

Los Torrales Coffee and Ornamental Plant Finca

The Guatemala Birdwatching Roundtable is an association of 140 individual farmers, 10 community farm collectives, 10professional organizations and environmental groups, and 3 school systems devoted to protecting bird habitat on area farms (fincas) to entice international tourists to visit these fincas to see the iconic birds that make their homes in Guatemala.

While these farms may be growing coffee, cocoa, rubber, fruits and nuts, or ornamental garden plants, each of them has set aside a portion of their land to be maintained in primary forest to provide habitat for these birds.

Pink-headed Warbler

Pink-headed Warbler

 

To date over 500,000 hectares of land has been preserved in Guatemala through the efforts of these farmers and the Guatemala Birdwatching Roundtable.

Put three biologists at a dinner table and even if Claudia and Vicky are unsure of their English, and I don’t speak Spanish at all, we still managed to communicate quite well about the importance of protecting habitat so that wildlife will flourish.

We each got so excited to realize that their goals are the same as mine with the concept of Ecosystem Gardening. And they have managed to find a way to accomplish this on a much larger scale by teaching these farmers that there can be financial benefit to preserving the land when international birders come to visit their fincas to see the birds.

Claudia made a very profound statement that has stuck with me ever since:

To save the world, we have to save private land for the birds

The Guatemala Birdwatching Roundtable is working to create wildlife corridors by linking the farms together to create larger blocks of protected habitat. Kind of like joining together links in a chain.

I was so impressed with the work that Claudia and Vicky are doing with the Roundtable and these farmers!

Imagine if small farmers here in the US worked together to set aside portions of their land to provide habitats for birds and other wildlife!

Imagine if large farmers joined forces with them to create large wildlife corridors devoted to protecting our wildlife.

And imagine if there was actually a financial incentive that encouraged more farmers to join in?

I’m so excited about the amazing successes that the Guatemala Birding Roundtable has accomplished so far with their work. It’s a model that could work very well anywhere in the world. And my wish is that we learn to do it here, too.

Farmers, homeowners, businesses, schools, and landowners joining forces to set aside portions of their land to create welcoming habitat for wildlife, making larger wildlife corridors by connecting tracts between properties.

(a FAM trip is when you are brought into a country by a tourist board to show you around in hopes that you will promote them as a tourist destination so others will visit).

Many thanks to Bitty Ramirez-Portilla of Guatemala Nature Tours, the Guatemala Birdwatching Roundtable, and INGUAT (the Guatemala Tourist board) for inviting me to share Guatemala’s beauty.

Follow all of my birding adventures in Guatemala:

Check out my new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week, teaching you to garden sustainably, conserve natural resources, and create welcoming habitat for wildlife in your garden.

© 2013, Carole Sevilla Brown. All rights reserved. This article is the property of EcosystemGardening.com If you are reading this at another site, please report that to us

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About Carole Sevilla Brown

Carole Sevilla Brown is a Conservation Biologist who firmly believes that wildlife conservation begins in your own back yard. Carole is an author, educator, speaker, and passionate birder, butterfly watcher,  and naturalist who travels around the country teaching people to garden sustainably, conserve natural resources, and create welcoming habitat for wildlife so that you will attract more birds, butterflies, pollinators and other wildlife. She gardens for wildlife in Philadelphia, zone 6b, and created the philosophy of Ecosystem Gardening. Watch for her book Ecosystem Gardening, due out soon. Carole is managing editor of  Beautiful Wildlife Garden, and also  Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens. Follow Carole on Facebook and also @CB4wildlife and on Google+

Comments

  1. If our farmers could all (or many of them) agree to do this our wildlife would not be in such peril….
    Donna@Gardens Eye View recently posted..Curiosity on Bloom Day

  2. Hi Carole,
    Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.
    As a Organic farmer we needed to set aside 7% of our land base for environmental reserve if we wanted to be certified with the European based Bio Suisse. Seems these farmers appreciate the benefits of a strong biodiverse natural environment.
    [Note: Our North American certification did not require us to set aside land in reserve. too bad as it seems very short sighted. ]

  3. I finally switched to shade-grown coffee about a year ago when it finally dawned on me how important this is to birds. I wonder how many others need to stop and think about it before grabbing their next cup of coffee.
    In fact, the people at Whole Foods, despite their commitment to the environment, were not very certain about which coffees were and weren’t shade grown. I think we all need more information on this matter.
    Do you have any practical comments to add to this illuminating article?
    Beatriz Moisset recently posted..Pollinators of the American Chestnut

Trackbacks

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  2. [...] imagine my surprise to find out that I’ve been invited to participate in a birding FAM trip to Guatemala! (A FAM trip is a “familiarization” tour sponsored by the tourist bureau to show writers, [...]

  3. [...] well about the importance of protecting habitat so that wildlife will flourish…..read more of Farmers Saving Bird Habitat at Ecosystem [...]

  4. [...] 2 weeks in Guatemala, where I saw some amazingly beautiful birds and got to visit some of the coffee fincas and preserves that are working to protect, preserve, and create habitat for birds so that they can attract international birders to come and visit this beautiful [...]

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  6. [...] had the opportunity to find out on my recent visit to Guatemala. When humans give up control in a place, Mother Nature has a wonderful way of reclaiming [...]

  7. [...] recently had the opportunity to tour several coffee fincas (farms) in Guatemala and I was very impressed that these farmers are passionate about creating habitat for birds and [...]

  8. [...] 39. Farmers Saving Bird Habitat–I just returned from a wonderful visit to Guatemala on a birding FAM trip, where I had the opportunity to visit many coffee fincas and other farms. It’s so exciting to see farmers working hard to protect bird habitat, and making that an important part of their operation… ~Carole Sevilla Brown [...]

  9. [...] Eduardo from seeing this exciting bird due to my slowness, so I slept in until 7 am, had a lovely breakfast with 2 biologists from Guatemala Avi Turismo, and sat in the gardens with many hummingbirds flitting all around and waited for them return to [...]

  10. [...] had the opportunity to find out on my recent visit to Guatemala. When humans give up control in a place, Mother Nature has a wonderful way of reclaiming [...]

  11. […] 2 weeks in Guatemala, where I saw some amazingly beautiful birds and got to visit some of the coffee fincas and preserves that are working to protect, preserve, and create habitat for birds so that they can attract international birders to come and visit this beautiful […]

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