Economic and conservation potential of bird-watching tourism in postconflict Colombia

Economic and conservation potential of bird-watching tourism in postconflict Colombia


Since the end of the conflict between the Colombian government and armed groups, the country has quickly opened up to tourism, enabling communities who were recently cutoff due to violence to be accessible. This new accessibility also means increased development. Since these regions have high levels of endemic and threatened species (otherwise known as High Value Birds (HVBs), the authors explore a sustainable option for development via ecotourisms. Specifically, they examine the opportunity for Colombia to establish a lucrative and conservation-friendly bird-watching tourism industry in postconflict areas. 

Goals & Methods

The goal of this article is to identify areas in post-conflict Colombia that have the greatest potential for developing a sustainable bird-watching tourism industry. The authors use geospatial analysis of these conlict zones that incorporates a range of citizen science and publicly available data in order to identify where bird-watching is taking place and areas of high unrealized bird-watching potential (HBP).  They also review infrustructure needs and potential opportunities and pitfalls of various locations. 

Conclusions & Takeaways

Out of 125 municipalities, the authors identify 67 with high potential for bird watching due to their high number of HBVs. The authors also touch on the ways in which ecotourism can bring significant benefits to local communities, including increase infrustructure and lucrative jobs, while also preserving Colombia's most valuable ecosytems. Overall, the authors argue that pursuing bird-watching tourism industries throughout Colombia is an ideal means to achieve development without degrading natural capital.  


Ocampo-Peñuela N, R. Winton S. Economic and Conservation Potential of Bird-Watching Tourism in Postconflict Colombia. Tropical Conservation Science. 2017;10:194008291773386. doi:10.1177/1940082917733862.


  • Department of Environmental Systems Science, Ecosystem Management, Zürich, Switzerland