Asia
9 Jan 2018

Recognition for the birding guide who turned his community into conservationists

Hendrikus Habur, one of Burung Indonesia's Nature's Heroes for 2017, is a birdwatching guide who has developed ecotourism around his local IBA into a source of improved livelihoods for his entire community.

Lodovikus Anju (left), Community Participation Officer of Burung Indonesia’s Program in Flores presents the Nature's Heroes Award to Hendrikus Habur (right).
By Nick Langley

Hendrikus Habur, one of Burung Indonesia's Nature's Heroes for 2017, is a local birdwatching guide who has developed ecotourism around the IBA into a source of improved livelihoods for his entire community. He has also monitored the implementation of local community agreements on nature conservation, and when necessary, taken a brave stand against activities, whether by community members, visitors or others, that would threaten the integrity of the Sesok IBA.

Hendrikus Habur gives training sessions on how to do forest monitoring

When necessary, Hendrikus Habur has taken a brave stand against activities that would threaten the integrity of the Sesok IBA

The 5,500 ha of forest covered by the IBA are rich in bird and mammal species. So far the area has not suffered greatly from agricultural encroachment, but there is no doubt that without the income provided by birding tourism, pressures on the forest would be much greater.

Sesok IBA holds the Endangered Fliores Monarch © James Eaton—Birdtour Asia

Visiting international tourists proves to the local community that the nature they have been preserving is indeed attractive to other people

"The Sesok IBA has become a favourite place for birdwatchers to visit, including a great number of international tourists, which proves to the local community that the nature they have been preserving is indeed attractive to other people”, said  Burung Indonesia's Tiburtius Hani. “This builds their sense of pride, which in turn gradually makes them more supportive and active in nature protection and conservation.”

By ensuring that local agreements on nature conservation are being thoroughly implemented, Hendrikus is helping reduce the stresses on the IBA, and the two threatened endemic species found there—the Flores Monarch and the Flores Crow.

Birding tourism has brought new sources of income for local people, who offer overnight accommodation at their homes, or provide food, souvenirs or other guiding services. “In providing services to visitors, Hendrikus takes care of matters related to his role as a guide, while other villagers take care of other things”, Tiburtius explains. “Work distribution is performed to ensure that all villagers receive equal benefit from the visits, and so they will have responsibility to protect and conserve the nature around them."

"Proper nature protection also ensures the availability of the most important service nature provides for the local people: sustainable fresh water.”

This Endangered crow has a very small population, which is subject to a continuing decline in the face of rampant deforestation on Flores © James Eaton—Birdtour Asia