In the past couple of months, EcoLogic worked with the peoples of La Guaira Cocoli and Nuevo Nacimiento Caliz, Guatemala to identify and prioritize present environmental needs within their communities. EcoLogic staff members used the Ten Seed Technique; a participatory activity that was created to enable illiterate community members to participate in a community-wide discussions. In turn, this activity helps EcoLogic understand and learn about the community from the perspective of its members and allows everyone (men and women) an equal opportunity to share their vision. Following the discussion, each person was given ten seeds, which they then used to vote privately on the priority level of the identified need categories. Using this strategy, community members of La Guaira Cocoli and Nuevo Nacimiento Caliz voted to prioritize conservation planning of two microwatersheds in their district.
Following the community vote, EcoLogic staff in collaboration with local partners, delimited and georeferenced the two chosen microwatersheds. Staff members worked with community elders to gather information about traditional water flow patterns as well as to identify major changes and trends associated with the two watersheds.
EcoLogic staff is currently coordinating the construction of 3D models of the two watershed areas so that community members may have a visual representation of what their watersheds look like. These models will aid community members in identifying priority areas for conservation and restoration within the watersheds and will allow for the implementation of a strategic plan to protect vital drinking water supplies.
The Gulf of San Miguel contains 17 percent of all the mangroves found in Panama and thus is an important nursery habitat and home to marine and fish life critical to the ocean ecosystem and to the artisan fisheries of the area. Poor sewage and solid waste management, unsustainable fishing practices, deforestation, and poaching are some of the problems adversely affecting the gulf. EcoLogic partners with five local communities to strengthen local fishing organizations, provide low impact fishing gear, improve alternative livelihood opportunities, and advocate for the establishment of a federally protected zone within the gulf.
In the past few months, EcoLogic has realized several activities in support of our goals towards a "Healthy Gulf". We have hired a local technician to gather and analyze information on a monthly basis about fish catch by local fisherfolk. In additon, we provided training on how to maintain a record of the type and quantity of fish and marine products – noting species and poundage – fishermen are harvesting from the gulf. This will help us form a baseline in combating the problem of mismanagemnt of the fisheries. We have also provided trainings to three fisherfolk associations in fisheries law and sustainable fishing practices.
We continue to carry-out waste managment plans in partnership with the comunities and are working with the local people to reforest degraded areas as well as implement agroforestry as a overall holistic approach to our conservation efforts. The construction of a tree nursery is nearly completed and will hold 10,000 trees for reforestation and agroforestry. Finally, with help from our generous supporters, we have been able to purchase a vehicle so that these communities can properly dispose of waste instead of dumping it into the water or on the beaches.
Thank you for your help. However, there is so much more to do, I hope you will continue to support these efforts in the months to come.
Fuel-efficient stoves are an important part of EcoLogic’s broader menu of community based approaches to conservation and sustainable development. EcoLogic originally introduced the stoves to reduce pressure on forested areas and to also help educate and inspire local people to adopt approaches that can have a significant impact on the ecosystems. Over the past few years, we have endeavored to expand and improve our stove program.