Azuero spider monkey school initiative: the future in small steps

The Azuero Spider Monkey School Initiative is an initiative that collaborates with the primary schools closest to the remaining habitat of the Azuero Spider Monkey as well as surrounding communities. The primary goal with this initiative is to communicate the importance of Spider Monkeys in its local environment, the dangers that these animals face related to hunting, development and deforestation, and finally, the uniqueness of the dry forest ecosystem, and how reforestation can be as good for the environment as for agricultural productivity. This year the program benefits more than 430 people and works with 8 schools in the province of Los Santos, more specifically in Bayano, Bajo Corral, Los Asientos, Colán, Nuario, Vallerriquito, La Miel and Oria Arriba.

Fig. 1. The image shows the children of the School of Colán working.

The program was initially imagined in order to support the biological corridor that is of special interest for the Azuero Ecological Project. For several years, the Azuero Earth Project has been working in order to protect this corridor, as well as its unique species, spme of them being critically endangered of extinction, such as the Azuero Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi azuerensis). This corridor begins in the bay of Achotines, and extends itself to the village of Oria Arriba, passing through the town of La Miel and finally reaching with the La Tronosa Forest Reserve (see Fig. 2). For this reason, these schools cover a large part of this corridor, and the vision of this program aims to promote the role of its children, together with their parents and communities, become the conservators of this important environment in the future.

Before carrying out any activities related to reforestation or habitat restoration in the area, the first step is for the members to get to know each other better through community conversations that arise during the course of the Azuero Spider Monkey Initiative. In this way, the Initiative resembles a forum to the restoration actions in the field along the corridor.

Fig. 2. The image shows the ecological corridor of interest for the Azuero Ecological Project, which extends from the coasts of Achotines to connect with the forest reserve La Tronasa.

Through this initiative, and with these communities, we contribute to sustainable development objectives such as quality education (ODS # 4), clean water and sanitation (ODS # 6), responsible production and consumption (ODS # 12), action by the climate (ODS # 13) and life of terrestrial ecosystems (ODS # 15). A focal objective, is to expose students to their environment and the surrounding natural areas, teach them the meaning of conservation under a scientific and practical scope, communicate the importance of reforestation in the classroom and in the field, and involve the local communities and parents in activities and field trips with students, in order to create a connection with the children, teachers, and ultimately, community members involved in the project.

 

 

 

At the end of this school initiative, students will be able to: Describe what deforestation is in their own words, name the causes and effects of deforestation, name trees on which the Spider Monkey depends, identify the three most common monkeys in Azuero, describe how the forests help human beings, describe what is understood by “equilibrium” with regards to nature and the environment, describe erosion, as well as the causes and effects of pollution, differentiate between climate and time, and name at least three causes of climate change in the world and locally amongst others.

If you are interested in participating in this initiative, follow our pages on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, call us at 995-2995 / 6717-3331, write to us at info@proecoazuero.org / edward@proecoazuero.org or visit our office located in Pedasi.

Fig. 3. The image shows a group photo with the children of the School of Nuario after completing the day of learning.

An environmental parachute – ProEcoPelaos style!

Fig. 1. The image shows the parachute created by the ProEcoPela’os

Our Pro Eco Kids are embarked on an art project that will showcase their splendid talents and their profound sense of protection of their surroundings to the world. As a part of the “Parachutes for the Planet” initiative organized by the Mother Earth Project, they have created an artistic parachute that will be exhibited globally to encourage people everywhere to live sustainable and responsible lives that care for nature. The first exhibit of the parachutes will be in Washington, D.C. on July 21st and will be part of the youth-led “Thisiszerohour” Climate March.

To see upcoming exhibits enter the next link: http://motherearthproject.org/schedule/

Fig. 2. The image shows to ProEcoPelaos making the parachute

 

It was marvelous to observe these great small members of future generations pour their heart and soul into each pixel of color to benefit our future Earth, that each day sends us more cries for help. We know that these youth will be change agents to promote a culture of responsible resource use.

Do you have kids ages 5-12? Want to get involved with the Pro Eco Pelaos? Come to the Pro Eco Kids activity every Friday from 3-5 pm in our office in Pedasi. For more information on this community program and others,, contact us at (507) 995-2995 or info@proecoazuero.org.

Agro-Environmental youth groups test their water

The high-schoolers of the agricultural institutes of I.P.T.A. Tonosi (@upmatonosi) and I.P.T.A. Las Minas (@manadadecapitanes) had full days on May 15th and 16th.

Fig. 1. The image samples of the water PH test of the creek of the Tonosí Cocoa River.
THE STUDY

The students, together with teachers, personnel from the Panamanian Environmental Ministry’s Department of Soil Management and Conservation and our own Team Monkey, performed tests to measure water quality on the grounds of their Institutes and in their communities. These nascent youth groups, called the Environmental Protection Unit (in Tonosi) and the Herd of Adolescent Captains Saving Flora y Fauna (in Las Minas), tested water for pH, dissolved oxygen, phosphate, nitrate, turbidity, and presence of coliform bacteria, as well as general characteristics of the area such as soil and water odor and color, streambank erosion, and other characteristics.

 

Fig. 2. The image shows the young people of the I.P.T.A. of Las Minas taking data of the results obtained
RESULT

We congratulate our budding citizen scientists! The results of most of their tests show normal levels of different elements (however, they are confirming their results through a professional laboratory analysis), except for the phosphate test that revealed high levels of phosphorus in the water of the El Cacao River of Tonosí that may be due to excessive levels of fertilizers. Thanks to these activities, Las Minas and Tonosi youth are inspired to continue understanding and conserving their natural resources and contribute to a better management of their watersheds.

 

PARTICIPANT

This initiative was adopted thanks to the combined efforts of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Panamanian Ministry of the Environment, and the Azuero Earth Project, who are committed to an Azuero peninsula led by youth deeply connected and committed to natural resource sustainability. Stay tuned for more updates about these youth groups throughout the year!

Fig. 3. The image shows the young people of the I.P.T.A. Tonosí taking the samples in the Quebrada El Cacao

 

 

The young generations of las Minas and Tonosí get ready for the future of their watersheds

Youth group “Manada De Capitanes Adolescentes Para La Conservación De La Flora Y Fauna de Las Minas”

Beige attires and brawn boots is what the energetic I.P.T.A. high school students of Tonosí and Las Minas were wearing on the third and fourth of April of 2018, when the Azuero Earth Project took the initiative of visiting them.

Youth group “Unidad para la protección del medio ambiente”

 

We travelled to these locations in order to support these young students that are pursuing agricultural studies, to create a work team that will propel the concept of sustainability in the agricultural field in their watershed. This initiative arose from a collaboration between Panama’s Ministry of Environment (Mi Ambiente), the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (F.A.O.) and the Azuero Earth Project, with the objectives of: Consolidating groups in the Parita and Tonosí schools to bring about change with regards to the attitude towards the environment, and supporting groups of students to enhance local and communal participation in actions directed to environmental care. This will lead the young leaders to prepare themselves pedagogically in topics related to their watershed’s management, and at the same time, will empower them to be capable of raising awareness within different audiences and promote the knowledge, research and conservation of the environment.

Youth group “Unidad para la conservación del medio ambiente” Playing to choose between something beneficial and malicious for a Web page

The students from both groups started their activities with a presentation of the basic information of what they should know from the perspective of an organization, including an emotive video on the importance of raising awareness regarding the protection of the watershed and forests.

Who am I? Am I an animal? Yes! Do I have ears? Yes! Am I a thief? No! Do I have slit eyes? Yes! Oh, I know! I am a cat! That was one of the games we played as we were able to share laughters with the students to alleviate the afternoon’s tensions and the tiredness. They certainly had a great time, and we greatly enjoyed this experience.

 

Youth group “Manada de Capitanes” writting their own statute

Accompanied by the Azuero Earth Project, and through the organization’s sense of collaboration and friendship, the students had the opportunity of establishing the name for their group, as well as setting their own status, objectives, goals, visions, board of directors and, as if this was not enough, even designing their own logo! We are very enthusiastic with the idea of continuing working with them, since these are young students that will provide their legacy for their region’s nature wellbeing, and in other words, for their own and others wellbeing. The Azuero Earth Project will be visiting these two institutions on a weekly basis in 2018 to assist their formation and witness their growth towards many successful years. With this program, the Azuero Earth Project aims to expand and reinforce our activities in the region of Las Minas and Tonosí, and support the formation of groups that could enable us getting closer to our mission of conserving nature and reinforcing the agricultural activity in the Peninsula of Azuero.

 

Youth group “Manada De Capitanes” creating their own social red.

At the end of the afternoon, after taking some pictures of the group, which can be found at the top of our webpage, the young students parted with a great smile on their faces and a “See you soon!”

National Award for Environmental Excellence

Azuero Earth Project wins national environmental prize 2017 in the category of NGO environmental commitment

We face great challenges in environmental and social matters, that’s why it is important to cooperate and integrate all the components of Panamanian society. The Azuero Earth Project seeks to contribute to this issue through education in rural society, which is primarily the most affected by climate changes, soil erosion, and biodiversity loss.

The Panamanian Ministry of Environment (MiAmbiente) recognizes AEP’s effort and commitment through the award for environmental excellence in the NGO category given to people and organizations that perform good practices in environmental management and that have contributed to the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. To the Azuero Earth Project, his award means a lot, indicating that our methods of environmental education are becoming known and offers new possibilities for cooperation with governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The Spider Monkey Education Initiative was awarded the excellence award in the NGO commitment category. This initiative is our first front of awareness creation in the communities closest to the remaining habitat of the Azuero spider monkey, a subspecies endemic to the Azuero region, and in critical danger of extinction according to the IUCN red list. Through the initiative, which is active in the communities closest to an ecological corridor that AEP hopes to create between the remaining tropical dry forest near Achotines laboratory and the elbow of La Tronosa Forest Reserve, the children learn about topics such as the importance of the different types of forests, the trees and fruits associated with monkey presence, and the role of the community in the conservation of biodiversity and watersheds.

The school initiative has been active since 2010 and every year the relationship with the 8 participating Los Santos communities is stronger. In these towns, the Azuero Earth Project is recognized as a close collaborator of the communities, the students, and the owners of local farms interested in reforestation. The environmental situation may become worse in the following years but surely there will be more people who will join in this national commitment to care for the environment.

For more information about the national Environmental Excellence Prize 2017, please see MiAmbiente’s webpage: http://www.miambiente.gob.pa/index.php/2013-02-20-08-59-23/noticias/noticias-de-portada/1383-miambiente-reconoce-excelencias-ambientales-2017

Vicente Álexander Vasquez Velasquez

Local landowners explore visions of a reforested future for Azuero

On the morning of Friday June 2, the Azuero Earth Project kicked off their 2017 Watershed Restoration Program with a pre-reforestation event. Five of the seven participating landowners in the Los Santos region attended the event. The day’s agenda provided helpful information regarding plant and animal biodiversity, physical evidence of reforestation success, results of past programs, conversation space for program participants to talk with each other about their budding reforestation efforts, and Q&A about maintaining reforestation parcels in Azuero.

The program participants met the AEP staff for morning coffee and pastries at the Pedasi office, where they viewed a presentation on past reforestation efforts on the Azuero Peninsula, current national reforestation efforts, and toured AEP’s tree nursery. Before driving to an area of reforested land to witness the results in-person, this presentation established a solid foundation of understanding. Participants asked questions about topics ranging from the national Alliance for a Million Hectares, of which the Azuero Earth Project is a member, to specific tree species they found in the nursery, adjusting their reforestation plans to incorporate new and interesting species discovered at AEP.

 

After meeting at the office, the group reconvened at the nearby property of Vernon Scholey to tour his reforested lands. The tour was led through two distinct areas of land with different growth patterns. First, the group trekked up hills where horses grazed between young trees. Next, the program participants ventured down into an older plantation area, now thick with undergrowth, where the loud cries of monkeys could be heard from the trees.

Jairo Batista, AEP’s Organic Garden and Tree Nursery Coordinator, expertly outlined the changes resulting from reforestation and the accompanying regeneration of various plant species. The participants observed how native species can develop over time, witnessing how biodiversity adds to the value of a property. For the landowners, the tour of the planned land development kindled ideas and questions about the viability of implementation on their own properties.

 

Participants were able to voice their ideas, questions, and concerns in a meeting with Scholey, the landowner. Scholey has been dedicated to reforesting his land for many years, and was able to field questions and clarify processes for the interested participants. This question-and-answer session provided both a personal connection and informative resource for the prospective reforesters.

At the same meeting, participants shared their personal plans, reasons, and hopes for reforesting their land. Showing their commitment to the program and their engaged participation, these local landowners explained the species they hope to plant, the usefulness of new tree species on their farm, and their logistical concerns. Trees bearing edible fruit were particular favorites among the participants, and many expressed their wish to protect the environment and mitigate the disastrous effects of climate change and biodiversity by reforesting their land.

The event concluded with a lunch and permaculture tour at the nearby Eco Venao. The permaculture tour provided a look into the use of land to compost organic material and regrow native species for their productive capacity. Having observed the diverse benefits of reforestation and sustainable land management, the participants had much to consider as they returned home.

 

Friday’s event was a precursor to AEP’s exciting season of reforestation and regrowth that will plant around 5000 trees across Los Santos this rainy season. Hand in hand with collaborators such as current allies Prince Bernhard Nature Fund, Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and American Forests, AEP continues to partner with community members who are interested in reforesting their land. If you would like to see more native fruit trees outside your window, are interested in sustainable land management, or are simply curious about compost, come visit AEP. Only you can make the decision to change the way we manage land on the peninsula. But never feel that you have to make that decision alone — AEP will help you take your next steps on your journey toward sustainable living!

 

 

Article and photos by Sarah Metzel

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eco-Movil Malls: Tag sales to promote local support for conservation

When we talk about saving the planet, we’re not just talking about recycling plastic, cans, etc, but also thinking carefully about the use we give everything we have in our house that we no longer use or simply don’t like. To that end, our Eco-Movil Mall Initiative, together with Tortugas Pedasi, collects clothing, shoes, home items, and many other second-hand goods, to then sell at yard sales that rotate among rural communities on the peninsula. Every Eco-Movil Mall has an organizer in the local community in charge of inviting us to the community, and inviting their neighbors to the activity, that benefits local community through offering them the chance to buy quality items a low cost without travelling to urban centers, while supporting local environmental initiatives at the same time.

Through this initiative, we hope to promote the reuse of everyday items, giving them a second life, while at the same time supporting environmental NGOs in the region. In each of our two first sales, in December 2016 and May 2017, we have collected over $500.00, a great help to both organizations. Our next Eco-Movil Mall is tentatively planned for August 2017.

Do you have goods you’d like to donate? Would you like to help organize a Eco-Movil mall in your community? Reach out to us at (507) 995-2995 or info@proecoazuero.org to support this initiative. You can also deliver items directly to our Pedasi office, in front of Distribuidora LIBADI, during work hours (8 am – 5 pm, Monday-Friday), at your convenience.

Join us to Reforest Azuero Watersheds!

Here at the Azuero Earth Project, we have been preparing for the planting season in June-July 2017. This year, we have the goal of planting 4500 native and fruit tree species to expand habitat for the Azuero spider monkey and many other local wildlife species. At the same time, reforesting our watersheds provides concrete benefits to local ranchers like avoiding erosion, improving soil and water quality, providing fruits, providing fodder and shade for cattle and complying with national environmental laws. This year, we have 7 program participants who will reforest more than 4 hectares, and we hope to expand this program in future years. As a member of Panama’s Alliance for the Million Hectares since December 2016, an initiative of Panama’s Environmental Ministry and group of allies to plant 1 million hectares in the coming 20 years, we hope to show how strategic reforestation of gallery forests with native and fruit species can serve to improve the lives of communities and wildlife on the peninsula. We thank Prince Bernhard Nature Fund, Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and American Forests for their support of this project.

This initiative needs your help! Throughout the year, this program is supported by a host of corporate volunteer, student, association and individual volunteers, with the same of interest of making an environmental difference in Azuero. If you are interested in participating, whether it is as a participating landowners, donor or organizing a group of volunteers, please reach out to us at 995-2995 or info@proecoazuero.org for more information.

 

Por: Gricel Garcia

Earth Day 2017 Celebration in Pablo A. Barrios Refuge

The Azuero Earth Project celebrated Earth Day this year in collaboration with other local organizations with a series of events in late April. The activities included:

  • A mangrove reforestation near the Pedasi port, in the Pablo A. Barrios Wildlife Refuge, with the Pro Eco Pelaos on Friday April 21st
The Pro Eco Kids hike to the mangrove reforestation site.
  • An Earth Day Celebration on April 22 on Arenal/Bajadero Beach with the local Hospital, Tourism Authority (ATP), Pedasi Municipal Government, CiMA Pedasi, OPC Panama, Tortugas Pedasi, the Barrios-Velasco family, Ministry of the Environment, Hablas Tortuga? and community members;
  • A Sunday Brunch in Las Tablas to benefit the Azuero Earth Project and its programs

The celebration on April 22 started off with a walk to the beach, followed by a beach cleanup that collected more than 49 bags full of plastic, cans and other recyclables, foam, and even some articles like a toilet seat, tires and pieces of scrap metal. Cleanup volunteers documented the quantities and types of beach trash to send this data to a national network organized by PROMAR. It is so important to remember not to leave our trash on the beach!

The winners of the annual Pablo A. Barrios photography contest were also announced on Earth Day. There were 11 entrants and 30 submissions in 3 categories: the Pablo Barrios Wildlife Refuge, Nature, and Ecotourism.  The event also included a sand sculpture building contest organized by Tortugas Pedasi y Hablas Tortuga?, traditional music, games for youth, and more.

c. Edith Díaz, Winner of the RVSPAB category of the 2017 R.V.S.P.A.B. photography contest
c. Santino Sirtoli, Winner of the Nature category of the 2017 R.V.S.P.A.B. photography contest
c. Santino Sirtoli, Winner of the Ecotourism category of the 2017 R.V.S.P.A.B. photography contest

We thank everyone who participated in these Earth Day weekend events and we hope to repeat them in future years! Meanwhile, we invite community members to get involved with our Pro Eco Kids youth group and Refuge Shared Management Committee initiatives. For more information please call (507) 995-2995 or write to gricel@proecoazuero.org

Presenting Azuero Earth Project’s Resource Center

Did you know we have a physical and online library? If you are looking for information on subjects such as zoology, botany, forest gardens, dry tropical forests or sustainable land use management practices, look no further!

Access to our libraries is completely free of charge as their purpose is to serve university and school students, researchers and scientists or people who are keen on learning more about gardening, agriculture, ecology and even cooking.

You can find books such as “The Art of Fermentation” by Sandor Felix Katz, and “Birds of Panama” by George R. Angehr or “Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea” by Alice Waters at our library in Casa Pasa, the building which also hosts our offices in the Azuero.

Library3_2015

Address:

Calle hacia Playa El Arenal

Pedasí, Los Santos

Hours:

  • Mon – Fri  8 am – 5 p.m.
  • Closed during Panamanian holidays

Contact:

Amenities:

  • Computers for public use
  • Internet access
  • Photocopies of books when neccesary.
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchen

Click here to access our online resource center and library.