PART FIVE - LOCALS ‘REDISCOVERING THE ATLANTIC FOREST’

Monday, 17 December 2012

Visiting local nurseries with the Environmental Extension team.

The Golden Lion Tamarin Association (GLT) helps the local community to connect and take action for the Atlantic Forest through three major initiatives: Environmental Extension; Forest Restoration on Privately Owned Land; and Environmental Education.

On Friday morning, along with the Environmental Extension team, I visited two of seven local nurseries operated by small rural land owners. The Association works with these nurseries to foster the development and adoption of agro-ecological practices. It provides technical and logistical support, training and opportunities to connect with other local farmers. The first nursery we stopped at is managed by a smiley, gap-toothed, chatter-box called Marlene. When we arrived, she and her sister were busy collecting seeds, but they were more than happy to leave this work to share a coffee and proudly show us their seedlings (all native to the Atlantic Forest) and cow-dung fertilizer. 

Depending on funding, hopefully two more nurseries will open next year. So far, the programme has shown massive changes in the values of the families involved. They are not only producing native seedlings, but they are also producing organic food and helping with the restoration of local forests and waterways and becoming great ambassadors for the preservation of GLT habitat.

The rest of Friday was spent mucking out the venue and preparing materials for Saturday’s environmental education programme, Redescrobrindo a Mata Atlântica (Rediscovering the Atlantic Forest), which provides long-term training for teachers of local schools. The teachers participate in monthly workshops, which help promote the objectives of the Association and increase teacher understanding of physical characteristics of the forest; native flora and fauna;
environmental threats; and possible conservation actions. 

Back when the education programmes first started, diagnostic assessments showed a major lack of knowledge and many negative attitudes. When asked what they would show visitors to the area, many local people replied ‘Nada, só tem mata’ (‘Nothing, there’s nothing but forest’). However, it was clear at today’s workshop that the 2012 graduate teachers were nothing but proud; proud of the Golden Lion Tamarin, the Atlantic Forest, bus also just as importantly, proud of themselves.

Today I learnt lots of really cool GLT related activities that we could use at the Zoo (ask me and I may sing and dance the GLT song for you if you’re lucky!) and I look forward to sharing these with everyone when I return. It was pretty sad to say goodbye today, but I have meet some awesome people, had some amazing experiences and created connections that will last a lot longer than the short two weeks I have enjoyed here in Silva Jardim. Thanks heaps Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund and the Golden Lion Tamarin Association!
Making new friends with the Golden Lion Tamarin Association.

To read about what else Lynn got up to, check out her blogs below: