SPECTACULAR bird species like Ospreys and red Kites are contributing millions to the local economy, a report from the RSPB has revealed.
Ospreys are the UK's top bird-tourism species, with an estimated 290,000 people visiting viewing sites each year. The visitors bring an additional annual income of £3.5 million to the areas around the sites.
Red Kites - providing a boost for local economy
Photo: Andy Hay / rspb-images.com
Other species surveyed include Peregrines, Bee-eaters, Choughs, Red Kites, Capercaillie, Montagu's Harrier, Hen Harrier and seabirds. Together they attract over half a million visitors per year to various viewing sites around the UK.
Here in the Yorkshire Dales, visitors can marvel at the spectacular Peregrine Falcons as they soar above Malham Cove. A viewing site was set up at the start of April by the RSPB and the Dales National Park Authority; last year more that 21, 000 people flocked to see the amazing birds.
Red Kites can also be seen in certain areas of the Dales following a successful re-introduction programme across England.
The 'Watched Like Never Before' report summarises twelve recent economic surveys. It includes information from 45 sites across the UK, stretching from Cornwall to Northern Scotland, and ranging from city-centre peregrine watching to seabird tourism on remote islands.
Ian Dickie, head of economics at the RSPB, said: "Our figures are carefully worked out. We only count a proportion of the spending by people who visited sites because of the birds and use conservative assumptions.
"We have known about the economic benefits of wildlife tourism for many years, but we believe this is the first assessment of the UK-wide benefits of individual species.
"The results reflect the huge effect spectacular birds can have in engaging support and interest in wildlife conservation. This interest is reflected in the positive effects they can have in their local area, helping to provide income and employment for local people."
21 000 flock to see Malham Peregrines
Photo: Mike Read / rspb-images.com
The RSPB provides people with the opportunity to watch the feathered soap opera of the bird world unfold through its' Aren't Birds Brilliant! scheme.
During 2006, more than 60 projects will run across the UK giving people the chance to get really close to some of the most exciting birds in Britain.
Project manager Richard Bashford, said: "Almost half a million people across the UK enjoyed the spectacle of birds displaying, breeding and fledglings taking their first flight as part of the initiative in 2005.
"It's fantastic that these projects are positively contributing to local economies. We have nearly 20 more sites this year, so there will be even more to see and hopefully even more benefits for wildlife."
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