San Rafael, December 2014
Positive political developments
For the very first time since the coming into existence of San Rafael we have managed to obtain the political support we need, and which we believe will help us achieve our goal of creating a national park. Increased pressure from the Paraguayan population was certainly also a factor regarding this development. In the course of our campaign "Your vote for a national park", which aimed to collect signatures from the people, we managed to awake the interest and gain the support, not only of many people, but also the relevant authorities. It's wonderful to observe what people can achieve when they work together! Before the end of this year there are set to be discussions in parliament over the possibility of a National Park San Rafael. We are full of hope that a good solution can be found which leads to the preservation of the forest with its unique flora and fauna.
Agro-forestry and work with smallholders
Our work with smallholders in the area met with widespread approval and our offers of training report high levels of participation. In the course of our modules, we have been offering training on important cultivation techniques. Our main aim is to encourage the preservation of the soil and thereby ensure successful cultivation of crops over the long term. We also offered training regarding the diversification of farming and forestry in order to provide smallholders, on the one hand, with the widest possible variety of sources of income and, on the other hand, to encourage subsistence in terms of food and firewood. With the support of a local yerba mate tea producer we demonstrated the planting and care of mate bushes. These are shrubs which grow in a way which is particularly resource sensitive. Furthermore, we were able to offer over the course of the past year training in matters of animal husbandry and meat production. With the help of the ministry for agriculture and livestock we could even establish model businesses. These enterprises serve as examples and contact points for questions or problems and reveal in a way people can experience directly the conditions and requirements which have to be met regarding the keeping of livestock. As part of these activities we cooperated with various state and private institutions, and it is our aim to continue to develop and expand these joint offers for smallholders. Our tree nurseries continue to be supported by the institute for forest science of the university of Hohenau. The Paraguayan forest institute provides us with the seeds of various native forest trees as well as young eucalyptus plants which grow quickly and relatively soon become useful for timber purposes. These were, as such, distributed to smallholders in the areas where it was deemed most necessary.
The work in the schools in the San Rafael area remains at the heart of our activities. The approval and the commitment of the teachers provides us with an enormous amount of pleasure, along with an increasing awareness of the environment among the pupils. This year we focused on the topic of waste. It's a topic with many different aspects - from the nature of different types of waste to the possibilities for reuse or recycling. Within this topic our main focus was on the composting of organic waste which can used as fertilizer at a later date and can thus make an important contribution to the support of natural cycles. In order to help the pupils really experience this, school gardens were set up. In this way the pupils were able to experience the complete composting process including the fertilization of the garden with their homemade compost, all the way through to the harvest of the plants which they themselves had cultivated. This is an experience which each and every child can introduce into their own home, leading to an increased awareness of the environment within the family.
San Rafael is becoming more well-known
Through the cooperation with the WWF and various other organizations, as well as an increased cooperation with the press, we were able to further raise people's awareness of PRO COSARA. Many of the visitors who, motivated by reasons of tourism or their scientific background, come across PRO COSARA, continue to support us after becoming aware of the importance of our work. Our increased use of social media is also a key factor in raising the profile of San Rafael. And you too can help us by spreading our message!
PRO COSARA receives tribute for tireless efforts and commitment
In May of this year the WWF Paraguay paid tribute to Christine Hostettler as chairperson of PRO COSARA. The tribute spoke of an appreciation for the tireless efforts of herself and her team. The Atlantic Forest is one of the biologically most significant, and yet most endangered, ecosystems on the planet. In the San Rafael protected area the last remaining larger areas of contiguous forest can be found. Only the creation of a national park can offer lasting protection for this unique natural space. We want to devote ourselves to this task with all the resources we have available.
So, as you see, dear friends of the atlantic forest, we are able to begin a whole host of projects during the last year. Projects which helped to improve the prospects of the people in the area, as well as serving to protect San Rafael. In order for us to be able to continue and expand upon this important work, we are dependent on your support! Many thanks for your support!