The Evolution of an Ecotour Operator,
or, Not Your Normal Tour Company!
Thank you for visiting the Focus Tours website! If you have visited us before, you may note the changes.
As an ecologist from Kansas University, and one of the founders of the rainforest conservation movement, I started Focus Tours in Brazil in 1981. Since then, we have offered high quality nature, birding and photography tours, using some of the profits for our goals of getting people out of poverty and preserving nature. We are among the first real ecotour companies, not getting into this business so much to be a big nature tour operator, but rather to make a difference in this world with the funds raised through such tours.
With our work in getting a Brazilian jaguar hunter’s family into the business of showing tourists jaguars instead of killing them, we set a precedent for what a tour company and its clients, can do to preserve nature. This led to consulting work in a number of African countries, as well as speaking in conferences about this work around the world. In the meantime, this project grew and now sustains over 50 families and is recognize as one of the most successful community-based ecotourism projects in the world.
In addition to Focus Tours, I am now working with the Brazilian NGO Instituto Sustentar de Resonsibilidade Socioambiental, to develop projects in partnership with the Brazilian government, academic institutions and other stakeholders. In particular, I have just finished directing the Wildlife of the Pantanal Program (Bichos do Pantanal), funded by the Fundação Petrobras Socio-Ambiental. This Program had 3 segments: research, environmental education and economic development. We established the baseline population of jaguars, giant and neotropical otters, hyacinth macaws, and other rare or endangered wildlife in the Pantanal on the Paraguay River by going out on the Paraguay River for 10 days per month, over 2.4 years. Based in Cáceres MT, the Program is worked with the 84 schools in the county, bring nature into the curriculums, helping to establish community based ecotourism, and having boats to take school kids into their Pantanal. After two years, the project published 12 scientific papers, we took over 44,000 children, into the field to connect to nature, and trained nature tour guides who are working today. I continue to document the jaguars and giant river otters, and yhou can join on eof my research trips. We invite you to visit this project and assist with the fauna surveys, and have much of the site in English. In Portugues, see www.bichosdopantanal.org.
This project led to yet another. Working with the Instituto Sustentar, we have created ClimaFund Brasil. Friends from the World Bank convinced us to set up this trust fund to deal with climate change. ClimaFund Brasil will work nationally to prevent and quickly extinguish forest fires in and around Brazil's parks, which together hold much of Brazil's megadiversity. Fires are repsonsible for up to 70% of Brazili's yearly greenhouse emissions, and Brazil followed the USA and China to be the third country to ratify the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We offer the best solution to meet Brazil's goals of reducing greenhouse gas emmisions by 43% below 2005 rates, by 2030.
Focus Tours can also help set up guided nature trips to locally owned lodges in the Pantanal on the Transpantaneira, with guides we have trained, and to other destinations in Mato Grosso. With a project in Minas Gerais, in southeast Brazil, we can offer visits to 10 of the state parks, with which we have an agreement with the Sec. of the Environment, to do the fauna surveys, train locals to be guides and to work with the schools and community development. We can also take you to see the rare and beautiful Golden Lion Tamarin, near Rio de Janeiro. As a result of ClimaFund Brasil, I will also be visiting and photographing the wildlife in most of Brazil's national or state parks, and can often take people with me.
We offer you high quality tours in these and a few other regions, where your participation will help preserve the region’s biodiversity, and provide for local economies. We are not your normal tour company!
Douglas B. Trent