San Rafael, December 2011
Positive developments in San Rafael
Our work over the last few years is starting to bear ever more fruit. PRO COSARA is becoming increasingly professional and awareness of the organization is growing. New initiatives are developing from our existing projects and we are working in cooperation with numerous domestic and international institutions. In addition to the monitoring of the protected area by our park guards and carrying out regular flights to keep a check on the situation, we continue to put great emphasis on educational work in the schools and on integrating the local population in our work through our smallholder projects.
New ecology center opened
This May finally saw the opening of the ecology center built with the assistance of the University of Salamanca in Spain. Officially opened to great public interest, the center is located very close to the protected area and is now our central contact point in the locality. All of PRO COSARA’s work is now being planned and coordinated here. In addition to the administrative office, the ecology center also provides various facilities for functions, training and research purposes. Numerous events for school classes, teacher and lecturers have already been held in our training room, as have workshops of every kind. A museum provides an insight into PRO COSARA’s work and tells visitors more about the complex eco-system of the Atlantic rainforest with its wealth of flora and fauna. This center has enabled us to make a major step forward in making our organization increasingly professional.
Smallholder projects and reforestation measures show success
The projects with the smallholders continue to help create economic foundations based on sustainable farming. Information on various alternative crops, species of timber and adapted methods of cultivation is designed to offer the smallholders alternatives to mainly genetically modified Soya. We provide help with selling the produce and are thus able to noticeably improve the smallholders’ standard of living. This increasingly makes clearing the rainforest superfluous and lastingly reduces the pressure on the protected region.
Last year, 58 hectares of cleared land was reforested. This involved planting over 35,000 seedlings of virgin forest and timber-producing trees from our tree nursery. We were helped significantly in this by the smallholders, who now also operate their own tree nurseries. We also received assistance from the Agricultural and Forestry Sciences Faculty of the University of Itapúa, with which we will be starting a number of joint projects next year. The surrounding communities also got increasingly involved in the planting work. The reforestation is being done along the paths of streams and in degraded areas and the intention is to extend this further next year. We are thus slowly getting closer to our long-term objective of having the banks of all rivers and streams in the vicinity of the protected area reforested.
Collaboration with universities expanded
Our organization is becoming better known through our many successful and still promising projects and our work is being increasingly supported by universities.
We have been closely working for some time with the Agricultural and Forestry Sciences Faculty of the University of Itapúa in Hohenau. This work is coordinated by an agricultural engineer at a local office. The aim of this collaboration is twofold: to make students aware of rainforest issues and to pass on important insights and skills in the field of reforestation work. With increasing frequency, the practical part of student research work in the areas of biology and agricultural and forestry sciences is also being done with PRO COSARA.
Great interest in environmental education projects
Our environmental education projects, which we run in over 30 schools in the area, continue to be very popular and a great success. In addition to regular training sessions for teachers, we also organize information events on the environment and ecology, plus excursions into the protected area and to the tree plantings. Our environmental education activities are being expanded more and more. This year, for example, PRO COSARA produced a brochure on waste disposal and recycling, which forms part of our training sessions and also gets distributed in the schools. The children thus get gradually introduced to the key environmental themes. Our core phrase at the moment in environmental education is ‘Clean drinking water’. Together with the children we explore the requirements for getting closer to this objective. Unfortunately, we repeatedly have to turn down requests from teachers, as due to our financial situation we need to concentrate on the schools in the immediate vicinity of the protected zone. We hope in future to get more support for this important part of our work, as we see the educational work with the youngsters as a major opportunity to create lasting ecological awareness among the children – and via them among their parents as well.
We continue to need your help!
As in the past, we continue to be reliant on your support! Even small donations can achieve a lot in our daily battle to protect San Rafael. In environmental education in particular even small amounts can give children access to our programs. We still need your help!
Many thanks in advance for your support!