For the Birds: Bringing Sustainable Tourism to the Amazon

For years, Roberto Mendonça earned a living by cutting down trees in the Brazilian Amazon.

Today, however, his life is dedicated to protecting the rainforest and supporting his community.

Mendonça's lodge, Pousada Garrido, is a Rainforest Alliance Verified™ sustainable tourism business located in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. By applying strict measures designed to minimize the ecological footprint of his lodge, Mendonça has attracted not only some of the region's most beautiful bird species but also avid birders from around the world.

“More tourists means more sustainable income for the residents,” says Paula Arantes, who is working with Pousada Garrido on its sustainable initiatives. “Supporting community-based tourism is one of the best ways for travelers to ensure that their vacation is sustainable.”

Little Bird, Big Plans

Pousada Garrido lies within the Rio Negro Sustainable Development Reserve, which is home to an extraordinary array of wildlife. The reserve is renowned for its biodiversity, which inspired Mendonça to turn his lodge into a birding and community tourism center.

To attract more birders to his lodge, Mendonça has partnered with Cleudilon, a local tour guide nicknamed Passarinho, or "little bird" in Portuguese. Cleudilon's ability to perfectly mimic 32 types of Amazonian birds—including the rufous-bellied thrush, the chestnut-bellied seed finch and the musician wren—is a big attraction for Mendonça's guests.

Creating a Lighter Footprint

The community surrounding Pousada Garrido’s has a strong tradition of sustainability; like its neighbors, the inn uses solar energy, recycles, supports local artisans with reusable materials and purchases foods from local producers. All of these factors helped cement its status as a Rainforest Alliance Verified business.

Tourism, one of the world’s largest industries, employs more than 235 million people worldwide and generates 9.2 percent of the global GDP. Many tourism businesses take a hefty toll on the fragile ecosystems around them, contributing to the destruction of some of the planet's most breathtaking destinations. This is why the Rainforest Alliance offers training in sustainable methods to hotels, lodges and other tourism businesses.

The Foro de Turismo de Base Comunitaria de Baixo Rio Negro is a forum that helps tourism businesses in the region around Pousada Garrido to accommodate travelers sustainably. Member organizations including Fundação Amazonas Sustentável and the Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas are working with operators like Mendonça to harness increasing tourism interest in the lower Rio Negro area while also strengthening the local economic and ecological outlook.

Help Sustainable Tourism Take Flight

The Rainforest Alliance is working throughout Latin America to help more communities like Pousada Garrido’s sustainably use their natural assets to their advantage.

Give communities all over Latin America the help they need for their sustainable tourism businesses to take flight. Support the Rainforest Alliance today.


Brazil Tourism
Forest canopy - photo by Sergio Izquierdo

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