Children in our remote rural area live in one of the world's top biodiversity hotspots, yet their level of understanding and appreciation for the forests is very low. Traditionally, forests are considered barriers to progress, trees are cut and animals eaten or simply killed because they are "dangerous." If we are to save the last great forests, we must focus on the younger generation, helping them to understand their place in the web of life and learn to love and value the forest ecosystem.
Lack of knowledge is one of the principal drivers of ecosystem destruction which in the case of Brazil's Atlantic Forest is approaching the point of no return. As forest cover disappears, springs dry up, soils degrade and valuable biodiversity is lost, sometimes for ever. Healthy forests benefit everyone, regulating our climate and supplying clean air and water and leisure opportunities. If we raise a new generation of environmental leaders, committed to care for the forests, we all win.
The program aims to equip students to become environmental leaders focusing on four things: critical thinking, science-based learning, practical field experience and learning to love nature. Every week we bring forty middle school students out of the classroom to embark on a rainforest adventure, using all their senses to explore their place in the web of living things. They then share their discoveries with friends and family. speaking not only from the head but also from the heart.
Young people everywhere complain there's nothing to do - yet when they are involved in programs that inspire them, they can become the change makers of the community! As their skills and confidence increase, our EcoLeaders become ever more excited about encouraging and working with their friends and families. We plan to create a critical mass of young environmentalists inspiring their peers to join them in the exciting and challenging mission of saving the rainforests for the whole of humanity.