Best of 2016: Hummingbirds give illegal logger new hope

Crimson topaz hummingbird in Guyana. A favorite of many bird-watchers, hummingbirds can be found across much of South America, including Peru's Alto Mayo region, where illegal logger turned coffee farmer Norbil Becerra has set up a small (© Pete Oxford/iLCP)

Crimson topaz hummingbird in Guyana. A favorite of many bird-watchers, hummingbirds can be found across much of South America, including Peru’s Alto Mayo region, where illegal logger turned coffee farmer Norbil Becerra earns extra income by allowing bird-watching tourists on his farm. (© Pete Oxford/iLCP)

Editor’s note: As the end of 2016 approaches, Human Nature is re-sharing some of our favorite stories of the year. To support crucial conservation work and help us continue to spread the word, consider making a donation to Conservation International.  

For Norbil Becerra, a career dedicated to protecting hummingbirds and their forest habitat in Peru’s Alto Mayo Protected Forest (AMPF) was an unexpected — but welcome — change.

After years of earning his livelihood by illegally cutting down trees for logging companies in the Peruvian Amazon, Becerra heard about a new opportunity for coffee farmers in the AMPF, which despite its protected status had Peru’s second-highest deforestation rate at the time. As part of a new conservation initiative, farmers received help to improve the quality of their coffee crops in exchange for not clearing additional forest.

Recognizing this opportunity, Becerra began working as a coffee farmer — but his focus took an unexpected twist after a visit to a community-owned reserve that provides habitat for birds and other wildlife.

Read the original post.

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Sophie Bertazzo is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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