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Education’s Critical Role in Conserving the Lungs of the Planet

Rebecca Fay | 19 March 2019 |

In Cambodia a mobile education unit reaches remote indigenous communities, in Brazil students monitor rare mammals, and in Chile a project works with community schools to conserve one of the most carbon-dense forests on earth. A common thread is critical to the success of these forest conservation projects: education.

Education’s Critical Role in Conserving the Lungs of the Planet

In the state of Acre in northern Brazil, private landowners have committed to conserve 35,000 hectares of pristine rainforest. The project is working closely with local communities to grant land tenure, provide health services and support diversification of farming to improve productivity and income. And the project is also collaborating with graduate students at the Federal University of Acre to demonstrate the value of the biodiversity incorporated within the forest. Motion sensitive wildlife cameras have been installed and have identified numerous rare and threatened mammals, including what is believed to be the second photograph ever taken of a short-eared dog in the state.

Working on this study gave students a real-world experience of designing a study and analysing the results,” says Brian McFarland, Director of Carbonfund’s project portfolio. “We were pleased to see their work published in an academic journal and to demonstrate how private conservation efforts can deliver continuing success in preserving terrestrial biodiversity.”

Further phases of the collaboration with the University are underway – a second, comparative study of rare mammals, and a plan to work with local communities on growing cacao, açaí, and bananas to expand agricultural yields and diversify crops.

From left to right: a collared peccary, a puma, and a tapir, all caught on camera in our Acre Amazonian Rainforest Conservation project.

On the opposite side of the continent, the carbon dense Valdivian Coastal Reserve on Chile’s southern coastline is now protected from threatened conversion to eucalyptus plantation and the construction of a highway. The area is home to a rich array of endemic flora and fauna and more than 70 identified species of mammals, including river otter, mountain monkey, Darwin’s fox and the Guiña cat.

For the last 10 years the project has worked with the schools near the Reserve to deliver an educational programme. Although the children from local communities have grown up near nature and are traditionally connected to the forest, the way they live is changing rapidly. The educational programme helps to remind them of the value of the forest – the animals that live there, how to preserve it, keeping the water clean and the benefits of renewable energy over deforestation.

Felipe Rubio, Development Director for the Southern Andes Region at the Nature Conservancy, which runs the project, describes the school children as “the guardians of the forest”. “We are educating the new generations in the community, that will be connected to the forest. If they learn the importance of it, we should have less illegal cutting of trees, less garbage in important places like rivers, they will kill less animals, take care of their dogs so they don´t hurt the native fauna,” he says.

Though on the other side of the world, in eastern Cambodia, the Keo Seima project has a similar approach. Covering nearly 300,000 hectares, it works closely with the 2,500 households living in the 20 villages in the project area to reduce deforestation and build alternative livelihood opportunities.

The project uses the Kouprey Express, a mobile environmental education unit that has been created by the Wildlife Alliance, to raise awareness of forest and wildlife conservation in the villages. Its goal is to foster positive behaviour change towards the environment and encourage both children and adults to be front line defenders of their natural resources.

Donal Yeang of the Wildlife Conservation Society which runs the project sums it up: “Education is playing a vital role because it can change the behaviour of the local communities and public towards forests and wildlife conservation.”

According to The Nature Conservancy, 24% of the most cost-effective emissions reductions needed by 2030 come from forestry. On the International Day of Forests, we celebrate the work of forestry projects all over the world that are working closely with forest communities to conserve the lungs of our planet. We have worked with our clients to finance forestry projects around the world that protect an area of forest over 550 times the size of Manhattan Island. Through our clients’ commitment to emission reductions they are supporting these projects with carbon finance, enabling them to protect biodiversity, improve food security and livelihoods, and conserve water sources.

To find out more about all our forestry projects, visit our website and contact us.

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