2015 MAR-L cohort Graduation
Dear friends, partners and followers,
In this second quarter of the year we have awesome news to share! Our 2015 Fellows have finalized their training cycle and graduated during their fourth workshop in Tela, Honduras. It was a week full of learning, bonding, joy, adventure and a little bit of sadness as this was their last workshop together as a cohort.
During the final workshop 2015 Fellows were introduced to local and international mangrove valuation and conservation initiatives, were trained in advocacy and strategic communications, and experienced an in situ exercise on blue carbon measurement.
Fellows presented their projects to MAR-L Executive Committee and national and international experts and strengthen the MAR Leadership network.
Special guests were invited to participate in the national and international panels including Sergio Palacios from the Ministry of Environment who discussed Honduras National Route for Climate Change and the inclusion of the coastal marine ecosystems in the legal framework. José Peralta, UNDP Coordinator at the Ministry of Environment, talked about the importance of coastal marine ecosystems in Honduras, the blue carbon initiative and its influence in Honduras mangrove protection. Mariela Ochoa, 2012 MAR-L Fellow who is Regional Coordinator at the Marine Studies Center (CEM by its Spanish acronym), shared her experience in mangrove restoration program in Guanaja; Octavio Aburto from SCRIPPS, Rupesh Bhomia from the University of Florida and Rich Wilson from Seatone Consulting, presented initiatives and success stories of mangrove valuation techniques and implementation for their conservation. They also presented the results of their research on economic valuation, shared their experience on conservation programs and exposed the existing states of mangrove health in the region.
We all had the opportunity to visit the National Park Blanca Jeannette Kawas, where Fellows had the chance to be amazed by the luxurious tropical forest, hauling monkeys and healthy elk horn coral dominated reefs. Bryan Foster from Vermont University gave a complete training on carbon estimation in mangrove forests with worldwide examples and hands-on practice which Fellows fully enjoyed.
After this thorough training on valuation and conservation of mangrove ecosystems, Fellows received a very dynamic training on advocacy and effective communication with Lori Maddox from the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW) and Alejandra Serrano from the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (CEMDA). During the sessions, Fellows learned about environmental-based social movements and how these causes have been communicating to impulse advocacy. They learned to recognize the importance of communication planning for the permanence of a movement and engaging stakeholders from various sectors to create a multidisciplinary team and promote a successful theory of change. Fellows developed a strategic communication plan for their own project in order to generate greater impacts.
Throughout the workshop, Honduran Fellows from previous cohorts, working now in different environmental organizations, participated in the workshop. Members of MAR-L Executive Committee were also there. 2015 MAR Fellows had the opportunity to share experiences, exchange contacts and discuss their projects, creating a valuable network.
The fourth workshop also represented the graduation of the 2015 cohort. Fellows presented their final project proposals to the national and international experts, to the MAR-L Executive Committee and their peers.
Honduras 2015 Fellows’ projects:
Anuar Romero, Coastal Marine Project UNDP / MiAmbiente, presented the project: Mangrove restoration against climate change in Cuyamel Omoa National Park (PANACO). His project will help decision making processes to establish restoration procedures in PANACO's impacted zones to tackle negative effects of climate change and agriculture pressures upon the coast line.
Mayra Núñez, Marine Studies Center–CEM, presented the project: Conservation Plan for Mangrove Forests in Natural Protected Areas of Honduras' North coast and Bay Islands. Her goal is to reduce mangrove deforestation by 60% by 2019 and promote the compliance of the legal framework outside the NPAs.
Belize 2015 Fellows’ projects:
Cecilia Guerrero, Mar Alliance, presented the project: Plan to improve mangrove conservation efforts through education and outreach program in three Belizean coastal communities. She aims to reach the different sectors of society and promote the protection of 20% of the actual cover by 2020 through a change in attitude towards mangrove importance and value.
Ralna Lewis, Wildlife Conservation Society –WCS, shared her project: Integrate mangrove conservation best practices at South Water Caye Marine Reserve, looking to promote sustainable development through mangrove conservation.
Guatemala 2015 Fellows’ projects:
César Zacarías, National Forest Institute–INAB, presented the project: Strengthen mangrove conservation in Guatemala's Caribbean coast as a measure for mitigation and climate change adaptation. Through a 5 years monitoring plan he aims to integrate mangroves in national strategies to accelerate the conservation of 50% mangrove cover.
Guillermo Gálvez, Eco Development and Conservation Foundation –FUNDAECO, shared the project: Establish the economic value of mangrove ecosystem for the sustainability of Río Sarstún fisheries (fish and shrimp). Through the analysis of fish catch stocks and monitoring their juveniles associated to mangrove, Guillermo will establish economic value to this ecosystem and will develop a participatory document for its outreach within the coastal communities.
José Domingo Caal, Aprosarstun, presented the Plan to promote community participation for mangrove ecosystem protection and conservation in Río Sarstún. His project seeks to boost community participation for the sustainable management of mangrove ecosystem through restoration of lost areas of forests and raising awareness on these ecosystem importance.
Mexico 2015 Fellows’ projects:
Blanca Quiroga, Natural Protected Areas National Commission -CONANP presented a Strategy to apply tourism as a strategy for conservation and sustainable use of mangrove in the northern Cozumel protected area. The main goal of her project is to determine the economic value of mangrove services that affect catch and release fishing and bird observation to support the decision-making process for planning, management and conservation with a participatory vision.
Carlos Zapata, Palace Resorts Hotel, shared his project: Economic valuation of carbon stocks in mangrove ecosystems and other ecosystem services and benefits associated to mangroves. The private natural reserve at Moon Palace Hotel sets a precedent in the region recognizing the importance of protecting natural capital. The aim of the project is to prove that investing in conservation is indeed profitable.
Jennifer Lara, Flora, Fauna y Cultura de México A.C., presented her ambitious project: Ecological restoration in a damaged area in the Natural Protected Area of Nichupté. Through restoration, rehabilitation of water flow, raising awareness and carbon stock studies, she aims to recover this area and replicate the experience in other areas of the NPA.
Minerva Rosette, Mexican Center for Environmental Law CEMDA, presented her project: Strengthening management of Yum Balam Natural Protected Area through a thorough environmental services economic valuation for better decision making processes and an outreach program that will reach the community and stakeholders.
Rebeca García, Palladium Hotel Group project is: Valuation of mangrove ecosystem services and the development of a Guideline on sustainable use of mangrove for the private sector (tourism). This tool will provide private sector with guidelines that will allow better understanding about mangrove importance, change paradigms between development and environment to reach equilibrium and transform mangroves as assets in tourism projects.
The workshop ended with an emotive and beautiful graduation dinner that was held by the beach, where the Fellows received their diplomas and kind words of gratefulness were shared.
MAR Leadership team wishes them good luck in their projects, their professional and personal life.
Keep up the good work!
Thank you donors for making this possible!
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Fellows presenting their projects
Invited international experts panel
Advocacy training with Lori Maddox, ELAW
Giacomo, 2012 Fellow, Roatan Marine Park Director
Carbon estimation training by Dr Bryan Foster