Rare is excited to introduce our thirteen newest Rare Conservation Fellows who are focused on "Reciprocal Water Agreements (ARA) and Biodiversity in Latin America." This is the second time that RARE is applying the "Pride" methodology in combination with ARA mechanisms, seeking to become a pioneer organization in establishing such conservation agreements, through its partners in the Andean countries and Mexico. These fellows will adapt and replicate demonstrated conservation solutions. Effectively implementing a community-based solution means providing economic incentives, training in more sustainable practices, accessing new tools and technologies, as well as changing attitudes and social norms. The fellows inspire people to take pride in the species and habitats that make their communities unique, while creating real incentives and alternatives to change environmentally destructive behaviors. Fellows who successfully complete their two-year projects earn a master’s degree in communication with an emphasis on conservation. Rare’s training program has been accredited by The University of Texas at El Paso, a leader in social marketing. We are so excited to share many more updates on their work, challenges, and successes over the next two years!
Why is your work with Rare important to you?
"It's a very important moment in my life and work. Since childhood I have developed work in rural communities and I have high expectations of how to make these communities settled in Los Angeles Basin, Alcalá-Ulloa municipality,Colombia conserve their environmental resources, which are the basis of their life and productive, community, social, and cultural activities. I am very excited and pleased to have been selected in this group, sharing with peers from different countries, with different abilities and cultures."– Gina Julieta Marín Ospina
What do you think has or will motivate landowners in the watershed to adopt sustainable practices?
- Georgina Vidriales
What challenges do you face?
”One of the main challenges we’ve had has been the negotiations with landowners. There are people and owners who we need to visit constantly in order to earn that trust that facilitates reaching agreements to be able to help each other. Another issue that needs to be taken into account is the training of technicians, so that they are knowledgeable and can inform the public about what they are paying for; and also be able to teach landowners, farmers or ranchers about the impacts of their positive actions, which are the base of the PES agreements...”– Jimmy Leonardo Cuenca Satama
What do you enjoy most about working with Rare and the other conservation fellows?
“What I enjoy the most is the interaction with the Rare team, and the Campaign Managers. Particularly, I enjoy seeing the Campaign Managers enthusiastic about the activities; it is nice when everyone has the spirit of participation, as this group has.”-Alan Hesse
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The islanders of Hambongan, Philippines keep no secrets. The 643 inhabitants are virtually all related. The clichéd white sand beaches and azure waters that shift hues with drifting clouds belie a cruel, well-known reality. In recent decades, fish catches have plummeted and the fishers have responded with dynamite. Deep cracks in the elementary school’s walls evidence the desperate and dangerous ramifications of the blasts. The people of Hambongan have always fished these crystalline waters. They know no other way of life.
About a decade ago, a marine sanctuary was declared near the shores of Hambongan to protect reefs and replenish fish. Illegal fishing has continued relatively unchecked among the tight-knit community. Rare Conservation Fellow Renante “Tian” Cempron, a former youth leader and the tenth child of a fisherman, has spent the last two years promoting sustainable fishing in Hambongan. Rare recently spoke with Cempron about his campaign.
What makes you most proud of your hard work over the past two years?
For me, I am proud of the connection I have made with the community, of which I am a part. The campaign helped people realize that the time is now to act because resources are not infinite. The campaign really engaged people and helped them realize the ocean is something to cherish because the sea is their livelihood.
What is the most valuable thing you have learned from Rare?
I learned the most efficient and cost-effective way to send a message. You do not need to engage a lot of people or a lot of resources. I also learned how to move people from one stage of behavior to another. I do not know if I could have learned that without Rare.
What is the biggest success of your campaign?
The fish abundance increased and the fish biomass increased. One fisher I spoke to told me that before the campaign, he could barely catch a kilogram of fish a day. Now he can catch one fish that is over a kilogram. His catch is still small, but the size is bigger. He used to harvest 200 kilograms of seaweed and now it has almost doubled to 350 kilograms.
What is next for you?
After the campaign, I hope that my site will be a pilot site and expand to adjacent areas. I hope the nearly 2,000 marine sanctuaries in the Philippines will be managed effectively and contribute to more fish and maybe fish forever for us.
*Photo: Wilda Sulistyaningrum maps no-take zones with local fishermen.
In 2010, collaborating with local and international partners, Rare launched its most ambitious project ever: reducing overfishing at 22 sites in the Coral Triangle. Overfishing in the Coral Triangle threatens not only the richest concentration of marine biodiversity in the world but also the livelihoods and food source of more than 120 million people.
On June 17, 2011, the heads of villages, government officials, community members as well as staff from Rare and CI gathered for a traditional ceremony, an Adat, to formally declare the no-take zones that were proposed to help improve the prospects for coastal fisheries in the Coral Triangle.
Only one year later, the success of these no-take zones has transformed and inspired pride in these coastal Indonesian communities. Rare Conservation Fellow Wilda Sulistyaningrum, who works with the Triton Bay communities, initially aimed for a 20 percent reduction of fishers entering the no-take zones. In Kamaka, surveys already show a 33 percent decline. At a recent meeting, community members asked Sulistyaningrum about building a patrol post on a central island to guard the no-take zones. She explained that funds were limited, but the community told her they would provide the materials and funds, if she would lend her technical support.
"I tell them they are the role model for other communities who now also want to set up no-take zones. The people are really proud of what they have done" says Sulistyaningrum. She wants them to continue living according to local traditions and feed themselves from the sea.
All the hard work seems to be paying off. Early indications at one site show a five-fold increase in the snapper population. Recently, an elderly fisher approached Sulistyaningrum and excitedly told her, "Ma'am, last week we had lots of fish near the village. That hasn't happened in a long time."
Rare Fact: The larger a fish is allowed to grow, the more eggs it is able to produce. For example, one snapper weighing 11kg produces the same number of eggs as 250 snappers weighing 1.1 Kg each!