Seeing is Believing: the importance of ecotourism to WLT's conservation partners
The year 2012 brought more visitors to the Guapi Assu Bird Lodge than in any previous year, according to Nicholas and Raquel Locke, project coordinators at Reserva Ecológica de Guapi Assu (REGUA), WLT’s project partner in Brazil.
Nicholas explains: “Not only is REGUA drawing attention to the plight of the Atlantic rainforest and the need to protect it, we are able to show nature-lovers the forests and wildlife, and birdwatchers are able to see some of the fantastic variety of bird species we protect. Visitor income accounts for 55 per cent of REGUA’s revenue making it an important revenue stream for us.”
REGUA promotes their ecotourism opportunities every year at the Birdfair at Rutland Water and through Avistar in Brazil; their website attracts other visitors and word of mouth is important too.
Everyone has such a good experience at REGUA and is so impressed by the Guapi Assu Lodge, the guides and the forests that personal recommendations are growing in number.
“The birds have been very obliging, with some wonderful sightings,” says Nicholas. He goes on to say: “The 10 bedroom lodge has adapted itself to the increased demand by improved health and safety. The construction of the new observation tower offers a dramatic view over the wetlands and a vista that only people like Charles Darwin could have seen, some 150 years ago!” The lodge now has internet access and a telephone line.
As well as thanking everyone who visited REGUA in 2012, Nicholas and Raquel want to record their thanks to all those who have volunteered at REGUA.
“We are indebted to our volunteers who are passionate about the animals and come willing to engage wholeheartedly in their field studies. They are helping to produce data that is extremely exciting for all around, the children, the visitors and fellow researchers. Likewise we are indebted to Lee Dingain and Rachel Walls, long standing volunteers for REGUA, who devote their energies to keeping the REGUA website up-to-date,” says Nicholas.
Protecting forests and their wildlife
The Atlantic Forest is one of the most threatened biomes on earth, more threatened even than the Amazon. With less than 7 per cent surviving in fragments across Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, the REGUA reserve protects some 18,000 acres. The Atlantic Forest supports about 680 of Brazil's 1,700 or so bird species and contains some of the highest endemism of any biome on earth, with 199 bird species found nowhere else.
To date over 455 bird species have been recorded at REGUA including 62 Brazilian endemics and 118 Atlantic Forest endemics.
You can visit REGUA
If you’re dreaming of visiting a tropical forest in 2013 we would definitely recommend REGUA’s Guapi Assu Bird Lodge with stunning views across the Tres Picos National Park, the forests on your doorstep, and knowledgeable guides who can show you the trails. You might even see a sloth on your walk!
REGUA is just 80 kilometres north east of Rio de Janeiro, and staff will be pleased to transport you to and from the airport.
Contact: Nicholas Locke at REGUA by email: email@example.com or let us know if you have any queries.
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