This past December we were able to visit the Bahia Magdalena community of Santo Domingo, B. C. S. The decline of COVID-19 cases allowed us to resume our work in the field and carry out several activities:
We visited the elementary and middle school to do environmental education activities with the students. Both schools were given a brief talk about the importance of wetlands, focusing on mangroves, and later did an activity to learn more about their inhabitants and functions.
Two signs were made in petition of the community who wanted to motivate the shores visitors to take care of the area. With the help of local members of the community, we installed the signs along the main paths leading to the shore lined with mangroves.
As part of the usual annual monitoring activities that Pronatura Noreste would do before the pandemic, we visited the plots of land belonging to the Llanos de Magdalena Reserve. There the previously designated observation points were visited and 360° panoramic photographs were taken of the landscape to compare them to the photographic registry of previous years.
Lastly, we had the opportunity to talk to community members who work on the shores where the mangroves are located. Upon explaining the work we do, several were interested in collaborating with us to become community guardians and help keep an eye on the shores to take care of the mangroves. This is a big step for getting the community more involved and help spread the word about the mangrove’s importance.
After not seeing the community for two years, the results of our visit have strengthened our relationship with them and give a new hope for more involvement in the future.
Elementary students with masks from activity.
Middle school student with shorebird guide.
Kids playing and exploring mangroves on the shore.
The launch of our new online learning platform offers new possibilities for community outreach and environmental education efforts. With it, we are currently designing a new course about wetland conservation that offers its users basic knowledge about the wetland ecosystems present in Northwestern Mexico.
The course’s lesson plan contains subjects on the basic characteristics of wetlands, the different types, its flora and fauna, ecosystem services and functions, how humans use them, its threats, examples of conservation projects, how to help through actions, and more. Each lesson comes with an evaluation activity and the course ends with the development of a small project in the user’s community. The course is still under development but will soon be available on our platform and will be promoted amongst teachers or anybody interested in the Bahia Magdalena community. This is part of our efforts to train and give the Guardians of the Mangrove more tools and knowledge to conserve their natural resources.
Currently, there is an on-site visit planned for early December by Pronatura’s team to the community of Bahia Magdalena. This in order to carry out monitoring in Pronatura’s Ecological Reserve Llanos de Magdalena located on the coast and install signs that ask visitors to take care of the area on paths frequented by locals. It’s also planned to do environmental education activities with some community members like organize a guided hike with a biologist to learn about the local flora and fauna, plus create a short puppet play with a small group of participating children that will be recorded and shared with the community.
We are looking forward to going back out on the field and working safely with the community!
To make environmental education content more accessible, we have developed a new online learning platform with free courses about different environmental subjects. This platform offers with each course a lesson plan complete with informational videos, activities, quizzes and a certificate.
With the current spike in COVID-19 cases in the state of Baja California Sur, work from a distance maintains being a necessity, and so this platform facilitates our outreach to rural communities like Bahia Magdalena. Not only that, but it helps the course-taker have a more structured and organized experience when learning about an environmental subject compared to using videocall platforms and receiving informational material via email like before. Now anyone can take a course whether they are students, teachers, or the general public and they can take it at any time that’s easy for them, do the activities and quizzes whenever they’re free, and download informational material directly from the course page.
Currently we have our first online course available about shorebird conservation which is very important for a region with mangrove like Bahia Magdalena where they migrate to every winter. The next courses will include sustainable fishing and the subject of wetland conservation with a specific topic about mangroves.These will be promoted among our contacts with the teachers of Bahia Magdalena so they can incorporate the subjects into their lesson plans once they have taken the courses. For now, we continue our long-distance work and keep being safe.
In commemoration of World Wetlands Day on February 2, 2021, Pronatura Noroeste with participants from the communities of northwestern Mexico created videos to learn about the priority wetlands in the region and their importance. One of the participating communities was Santo Domingo, B. C. S. located in Bahia Magdalena.
We spoke to one of our Star Mangrove Guardians who, with her son, made a video showing one of the wetlands in the community while explaining what they are. In the video, a temporary wetland of a stream that fills up during rain season is shown and its importance is explained. This particular wetland was used to show that temporary wetlands are just as important as permanent ones.
The video was shared on social media via Facebook and YouTube with the required permission from the creators. They were shown to have great feedback and the participants shared it with their friends and family in the community.
On another note, the final design for the signs to be placed near the shore is finished. The idea is to motivate its visitors to enjoy the environment’s elements and avoid doing harmful activities. This design along with other signs that demonstrate the local flora and fauna will be placed by local community members along the shore near the mangroves.
Keeping contact with the community is key when developing projects in rural areas. Because of the ongoing pandemic our regular visits to Bahia Magdalena have been suspended making communication more difficult. Nevertheless, we continue adapting to new ways of communication and work from a distance.
Since the beginning of October, we started a social media campaign on Facebook to recognize the efforts of our community outreach leaders in northwestern Mexico. The campaign consists of a summary of the activities that the community outreach leader has participated in during their work with the Education for Conservation program of Pronatura Noroeste A. C. The posts can be seen on the program’s Facebook page: Educación para la Conservación.
A special recognition post was made for a new community outreach leader who currently lives in Bahia Magdalena and has been participating in spreading to others the online activities being carried out by Pronatura. Several other community outreach leaders who have worked in that region with different communities throughout the years were part of the campaign. We thank their efforts and their contribution to environmental education!
Currently, upon solicitation of the community, we are working on creating signs to be placed in strategic points along the shores of Bahia Magdalena to inform visitors about the flora and fauna there and what activities to avoid. These signs will be placed by the Guardians of the Mangrove to keep their environment and home safe!
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