Environmental Conservation


Impacts of birdwatching on human and avian communities

Cagan H. Sekercioglu a1c1
a1 Center for Conservation Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-5020, USA


Ecotourism can be a vehicle for community-based conservation if it is conducted with an emphasis on the well-being of local ecosystems and human communities. Birdwatchers form the largest group of ecotourists, and are, on average, well-educated, wealthy and committed. This makes them ideal ecotourists for community-based conservation. Therefore, there is a need for a comprehensive review of birdwatching from a conservation biology perspective. Specific objectives here are: (1) to review the economic potential of non-residential birdwatching for community-based conservation; (2) to outline the potential benefits and problems associated with this activity; and (3) to provide suggestions for improving the conservation value of birdwatching. Birdwatching tourism has a high potential to improve the financial and environmental well-being of local communities, educate locals about the value of biodiversity and create local and national incentives for successful protection and preservation of natural areas. However, there needs to be more research on the economical and environmental impacts of this hobby, birdwatching-related disturbance needs to be reduced, and much has to be done to increase the financial contribution of birdwatching to local communities.

(Received October 5 2001)
(Accepted May 20 2002)

Key Words: bird disturbance; birdwatching; community-based conservation; ecotourism; profit leakage; protected areas; sustainable use.

c1 Correspondence: Dr Cagan Sekercioglu Tel: +1 650 724 6355 Fax: +1 650 723 5920 e-mail: cagan@stanford.edu