Conservation starts with education
My name is Céline Wagner and I am an ongoing short-term community development intern in the Peruvian amazon cloud forest in Oxapampa. As I am writing this, I am learning not only the importance of the Amazon cloud forest but also what development really implies. Upon my arrival, I was asked what my goals at the end of the 6 weeks are. As a student of Business Administration and International Relations, I came up with unrealistic expectations such as: helping the locals to create successful businesses, educating the community to increase global opportunities, or assisting them with construction hoping to build an entire village. However, if I am honest, I was not quite sure what I will be doing here but I was hoping to see change. Now, two weeks into the meeting, living, and most importantly understanding the community, I have realized that there is much more to development. A famous quote by the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu states “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”– this to me is development, and my aspiration to set up this fundraiser.
The one real difference I can make in this short period of time is to try to encourage and assist in reaching more sustainable standards of living through environmental education. One of the key issues comes down to lack of education and awareness and thus causing environmental, social, and economic issues, such as:
- The use of toxins and pesticides causes food and water to be contaminated, affecting their well-being as well as the health of the environment
- Deforestation for commercial purposes affects biodiversity, creates soil erosion, further heightens climate change, and leads to diminishing levels of water quality.
- Intentional burning consists of removing vegetation for the use of fruit plantations or cow fields not only destroying the biodiversity but also forming nutrient-poor soil, which is very hard to recover, moreover raising greenhouse gases and reducing the quality of water.
- Irresponsible littering (throwing out the garbage) increases water, air, and soil pollution further initiating severe health issues and environmental problems
- The use of gasoline generators for electricity is very common amongst the local society for refrigerators or hot showers. This method is significantly more expensive than solar panels or hydroelectric generators (water-driven energy), furthermore, gasoline is dangerous for both the community’s health and the environment.
Side note: In the cloud forest, the clouds provide water which circles through evapotranspiration, and eventually runs through the rivers into the villages, which is the primary source of water for the communities. When eliminating the abundance of trees the cycle is broken, this does not only reduce the volume of water but also affects the filtration of toxins running into the rivers – trees act as filters.
How can you and I educate the community to avoid these environmental issues?
We must raise awareness and find solutions for their survival. The educational research center CDS offers a variety of activities to both local and indigenous communities. These activities include raising awareness about the importance of the environment such as preserving the forest and flowers, learning about the water quality indicators, showing them the beauty of nature, doing arts and crafts, planting trees in the cloud forest, and much more. The objective of each activity is to indirectly teach and engage the community about the importance of their surrounding nature. In most cases, despite living in or near the Peruvian cloud forest, the communities are unaware of the life within the jungle, as a result, CDS has produced three books for both children and adults addressing each element of nature. These books are closely coordinated with the activities of the center and convey their message through a story. Their first published book, Where the rivers are born - Donde nacen los rios, was remarkably successful amongst the schools, and the story is still highly requested by children. Their two other books, 5 Elements of the Forest - Los 5 secretos del Bosque and The Community of the Forest - La comunidad del Bosque, are targeted towards children and adults, however, they are still in production.
Attending the day tour includes snacks and lunch for the group, the equipment for each activity, and offers each child a book. Therefore, the aim of this donation is to raise enough capital for CDS to provide daily tours as well as to distribute the books free of charge to the local and indigenous people. In sum, to offer these tours free of charge, we need funding for:
- the production, printing, and distribution of the books
- Cost to produce 1,000 books: 15,000 SOLES
- Cost to print 1,000 books: 8,000 SOLES
- Cost of distributing 1 book to one child: 30 SOLES
- Cost of distributing the books to rural schools: 900-2,500 SOLES depending on the distance.
Distributing the books to local and rural schools is more costly and does not convey the importance of cloud forest perseverance. Therefore the primary focus is on getting rural communities to come to CDS free of charge and engage in activities to learn as well as obtain the book for future references.
- Maintenance, activities, food, and water consumption for the group
- Cost for a group of 10 people for a day tour: 600 SOLES
How can you help?
- $7.50 = 30 Soles = 6.50 EURO
- Funds one book for one child
- $15.50 = 60 Soles = 13.00 EURO
- Funds one child to visit the center for one day including all activities and a book.
- $25.50 = 100 Soles = 21.50 EURO
- Contributes to the funding of the production of the books
- $76.50 = 300 Soles = 64.50 EURO
- Funding an expert from the center to conduct environmental education classes to a local or rural school.
- $153.00 = 600 Soles = 129.00 EURO
- Funds a local family to visit the center for one day including all activities and a book.
- $255.00 = 1,000 Soles = 215.00 EURO
- Funds a group of 10 children to visit the center all activities, transport and a book each.
Thank you in advance for your donation.