San Rafael, December 2010
PRO COSARA's new headquarters almost finished
The construction of our new main building is making steady progress. The basic structure is due to be completed by the end of the year and in April 2011 we are hoping to open the building as our organization's new headquarters. It is located very close to the reserve on its southern tip. In the future, we will be planning and organizing our projects from here, as well as running training sessions and courses. The building will also be the location of the new visitor and information center and will provide facilities for academic and scientific work. The creation of this new core headquarters represents an important step in the increasingly professional development of our organization.
PRO COSARA gains financial support from debt rescheduling fund
Some of the important work we were able to do last year was thanks to money from the Fund for the Protection of Tropical Forests in Paraguay. The fund's money comes from the rescheduling of interest on state debts that Paraguay has with the USA. The USA is waiving this interest and enabling reinvestment in Paraguay on the condition that the money is used to fund projects aimed at protecting the environment and the primeval forest.
PRO COSARA was the first organization to get support from this fund. The projects we have run are serving as a model of success and we hope to continue working together over the coming years. The money from the fund enabled us to finance two of our park guards, our environmental education work and our projects on sustainable land use for small farmers for a period of eighteen months.
Environmental education generating every greater interest
We have now been able to develop our work in the area of environmental education constantly over several years. Today we already work with 30 schools in the surrounding area. In this way we hope to foster awareness among the children – and thus the next generation – for the virgin forest and the environment. As well as formal lessons, we also organize competitions in which the schools are made prettier and greener. The best projects of this kind regularly receive awards from us, which acts as great inspiration and motivation for the pupils. These environmental education initiatives are also generating increasing interest further afield as well. We now receive inquiries, for instance, from schools in Encarnación, the major city in the south of Paraguay. Several universities have also already invited us to give talks on our work.
Expanding our work with the area's small farmers
During the last year we were able to further intensify and expand our work with small farmers in the surrounding area. Part of our success here is based on the fact that we place great importance on taking into account the local social structure. Instead of being organized on a local authority basis, the projects were run through smaller social units, such as family associations and neighborhood groups. This form of organization proved to be very successful and is finding increasing interest and acceptance.
The projects with the small-scale farmers cover training sessions on alternative crops and methods of cultivation. We also distribute seedlings of virgin forest and timber trees for the reforestation of plots of land and the sides of waterways and support the setting up of independently owned tree nurseries. The aim is to create an economic foundation for the smallholders based on sustainable agriculture. We are seeking to establish alternatives to the mainly genetically modified soy and to help find markets for alternative produce. This ought to make any clearing away of trees redundant and permanently reduce the pressure on the virgin forest reserve.
We continue to need your help!
Always running alongside all the projects, events and training sessions are our everyday tasks of watching over the forest. We have to pay wages for park guards, we operate observation flights and we need all sorts of items of equipment. The only way that the primeval forest in San Rafael can be preserved is through diverse and long-term initiatives. And for this we continue to need your help!
Many thanks in advance for your support!