San Rafael, July 25, 2009

A look back at the first half of 2009

Monitoring San Rafael

The protected area can be divided into strongly and less strongly threatened zones. The strongly threatened zones are predominantly near to small farmer settlements. We monitor these areas vigorously working in conjunction with the SEAM, GUYRA park rangers and the local police. A good working relationship with the small farmers is particularly important, as is establishing a long-term alternative to destructive exploitation as a source of income.
Surveillance flights are carried out regularly as long as weather conditions permit safe flying. The surveillance flights are important to establish quickly what is happening in and around the reserve and for us to direct the park rangers on the ground. They also enable us to identify early and monitor forest fires in and around the reserve.

Reforestation projects in the vicinity of the reserve

In conjunction with the WWF, we have successfully continued and extended the work of the tree nursery in Alto Verá and the reforestation projects in the surrounding communities. The seed collection and native tree cultivation projects have also been broadened to the extent that now over 20 different native tree species and additional timbers are available.
Regular information events about reforestation are held for the small farmers and over 100 small farmer families are already involved in the reforestation project. The long-term goal is to establish sustainable and serviceable forestry areas and also agroforestry systems, that is agriculture in combination with trees and in so doing reduce the pressure on the reserve. In addition to the reforestation project, a key goal continues to be to promote awareness for ecological management in the small farmer communities and foster a sustainable subsistence strategy (ecological agriculture, alternative crops, diversification, erosion control, etc.).

Environmental education

By working with children we have a major opportunity to create a long-term alertness and understanding for San Rafael. Ten local schools are currently taking part in the environmental programmes. In addition to providing education for the teachers, there are regular information events on the environment and ecology, excursions into the nature reserve and tree planting projects.