Your birder dollars, if recognized as such, are a vote for conservation. They lobby local communities to conserve their resources not only for the health of their environment, but for the health of their economy.
Did you know?
- In 2006, wildlife viewing activities generated more than $5.2 billion in Florida. Read the 2006 report on the economic benefits of wildlife viewing in Florida for more information.
- Nationwide, birding is big business: 48 million people observed birds around home and on trips in 2006.
- One of every six Florida residents participates in some form of wildlife viewing activity. (18.09 million state residents in 2006 per U.S. Census Bureau, and 3.274 million wildlife watching participants residing in Florida)
- Florida ranks as the second highest state (after California) in the number of people participating in watchable-wildlife recreation. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation)
- With 746,000 visitors per year, more people travel to Florida to view wildlife than any other state - 24 percent more than the second-place state, California. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation)
- Since 2001, the number of people who visited Florida to view wildlife increased 50 percent. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation)
- In 2006, the nonresident wildlife viewers in Florida (746,000) equaled the population of South Dakota and brought $653 million into the state economy. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2006 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation; U.S. Census Bureau)
- In 2006, Florida residents who enjoyed viewing wildlife around their homes outnumbered the population of 21 states. (U.S. Census Bureau)
- The total spent annually in Florida for wildlife viewing is two and a half times greater than the value of the state's annual orange crop harvest. ($1.23 billion in 2006, per the USDA as reported by the Lakeland Ledger)
- Wildlife viewing-related expenditures (equipment, travel, wildlife feed, etc.) in Florida are comparable to sales of golf equipment nationally. (National Sporting Goods Association and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: $3.4 billion for golf equipment in 2006 and $3.1 billion for wildlife viewing in Florida)
- The 2013 Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival had an estimated economic impact of $1,286,492 in Brevard County; $416,000 in labor income was generated and more than $185,000 in government tax revenues was accrued. (The Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival 2013: Economic Impact & Demographic Profile)
Ways YOU can use your economic might to motivate conservation:
(1) Make sure you're recognizable as an ecotourist or birdwatcher. If you are not recognized as an ecotourist, you are assumed to be a traditional tourist, for whom communities will continue to pave and develop their wild lands. Print the calling cards on this website and leave them every time you eat at a restaurant, purchase gas, or stay in a hotel while on a birding trip. Talk to people at these establishments so that they recognize the growing proportion of their business which comes from birders. Compliment them on the birds you saw and their healthy wild lands, and let them know you plan to keep coming back.
(2) Visit responsible businesses and tell them why. Businesses that landscape with native plants, give back to local wildlands or restoration efforts, and provide educational opportunities for the local community should be rewarded with our economic support and praise.
(3) Don't fall prey to false "eco-marketing." As the size of the ecotourism market is gaining attention, more businesses want to share in the wealth. Be an educated consumer. Tell tour operators that you pay to see the natural behavior of animals, not their panicked reactions to disturbance. Tell them you don't want a canned experience--captive wildlife or wildlife lured by food--and that you recognize that a natural experience means you might not see your target species every time, but that doesn't diminish your having a good time. Lastly, visit businesses that not only show you wildlife, but teach you about that wildlife, too.