Here's How You can Support Environmental Awareness for the Bolivian Amazon
by Amazon Fund
The Need for environmental awareness and education.
Urbanisation in the Amazon region is an active and continuous process and presently over 70% of the population in the region lives in urban centres. To a large extent, these populations are made up of descendants of migrants originating from outside the region. The knowledge and awareness of the migrant population to conserve the natural treasures of the Amazon are limited.
In Bolivia, the town of Rurrenabaque is a particular case. This Amazon frontier town is located on the Rio Beni at the foot slopes of the Andean mountains, Rurrenabaque is Bolivia’s foremost eco-ethno tourist destination. This is due to its location close to the Pampas, Reyes and Madidi National Park and the Pilón Lajas Biosphere and Indigenous Territory, which host a wealth of plant species, wildlife, landscapes and ecosystems and which present one of the highest biodiversity indexes of the entire Amazon region.
As a consequence of unsustainable tourism development, spontaneous, unplanned urban expansion, road construction, increased pollution, forest fires, motorised boating, etc., the environmental conditions in the township and the surrounding sub-urban and rural forest areas are deteriorating rapidly, affecting quality of life and, eventually, the economic base of the local economy.
As formal education does not include environmental training, there is a pressing need to introduce and develop environmental education and awareness programmes, jointly with actions promoting environmental and nature conservation.
Environmental education and raising environmental awareness play significant roles in influencing people’s behaviour and participation in the conservation of nature, the environment and sustainable development. Investing in young people, being the decision makers of tomorrow, is investing in a life-long process to promote greater awareness of environmental issues and is the best way to make a long-term lasting impact. The focus is on practical activities and first-hand experiences with nature in order to recognise the value of the environment and to develop conservation skills.
The strategy is to implement a two-year pilot project first and, after evaluation and learning from the lessons of this pilot, extend the project to reach more schools and other Amazon urban centres.
School in San Miguel
The long-term objective of the project is to raise environmental awareness and change the attitude and behaviour of school children to contribute to the conservation of the Amazon environment and biodiversity. The project aims primarily at urban communities near the Amazon in Bolivia, firstly in Rurrenabaque. As children are potential change agents for the future, we aim at schoolchildren, students, teachers, parents, department of education and the indigenous communities.
The two-year pilot project has three programme components. Educational activities aimed at primary school children and focused on the development and maintenance of school gardens, recycling of wastes and the environment at home. Educational activities, awareness raising actions and practical field work in the Amazon rainforest and wetland environments, aimed at secondary school students. Informal activities to promote greater awareness among the urban population at large.
The long-term objective of the project is to raise awareness to recognize the value of nature, to understand the importance to conserve the Amazon environment and to change the attitude and behaviour of the young generation. This requires a continuous process of many years and even generations. As experiences elsewhere in the Amazon are still limited, the activity will start with a pilot project first, to test the approach and to evaluate the results in terms of sustainability, before the activity will be extended and expanded to other target groups and in other urban centres in the Bolivian Amazon.
Amazon Fund and its partners in this project are well established organisations, with experienced staff and collaborators with an extensive track record in the Amazon. Jointly, the partners are well positioned to implement environmental awareness training and education programmes for schoolchildren as envisaged by the project. The contracting of a local coordinator will ensure an efficient implementation of the various project components. The participation of the San Miguel del Bala indigenous organisation puts the project in the right socio-cultural context, safe-guard the project from undesirable foreign ideas and approaches and is an asset in fostering the sustainability of the project. Huertos Educativos of the NME-MUNDIAL Foundation in Cochabamba, Bolivia will be in charge of organising and implementing the component, in cooperation with the Municipal Education Department. Gerente Constontino Nay of San Miguel de Bala and Arjen Crince where present at our presentation of the project in Ecodrome Zwolle in april 2011.
The costs for the two-year pilot are 30.000 euro. With this budget we can launch a environmental awareness program to become a model for the Bolivian Amazon.
How can YOU support this initiative !
Adopt a school in Rurrenabaque or San Miguel. Are you a school, organisation or private person? We invite you to adopt a school. In the pilot phase we cooperate with 5 schools. 4 in Rurrenabaque, 1 in San Miguel.
Support for 100 to 1000 euro per year.
Finance one day of practical field work
Groups are 10 to 12 people. Per student the cost for one student per day, including transport and guide is 8 euro.
Support a student for 8 euro or a group for 96 euro.
Support the development of teaching materials
The materials will be developed by San Miguel del Bala, a profesional Bolivian organization and the Amazon Fund.
More information: firstname.lastname@example.org