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It (literally) takes a village to make conservation happen

By Francine Guido, student at the Tropical Ecology & Conservation Leadership

At the beginning of Osa Conservation’s field course, I was expecting to learn about the conservation of wildlife and the rainforest in the Osa Peninsula. But what does it take to make conservation? Soon I realized it’s all about the people.

Sharing information with people from the Osa communities about what makes a healthy river. Healthy Rivers Program’ stand for Alvaro Ugalde Day. Photo: Jonathan Navarro.

When you think about conservation, what do you picture? You might picture a group of scientists doing expeditions in exotic places looking for elusive endangered creatures. Maybe you can picture them carrying heavy equipment all the way to the jungle to climb up trees. Or maybe those scientists are in the deep blue sea collecting data.

Conservation needs more than research. It must take prompt action to solve environmental issues. But the environment is not only the wild, but it is also the people. We scientists can show the results of our research to other scientists and discuss it. But it won’t be enough to protect nature if we don’t engage people in that discussion.

Representation of a healthy river from the perspective of children. Photo: Francine Guido-Solano.

People from the Osa Peninsula grew up surrounded by the forest, the sea, and the wildlife. They know how nature works at the Osa. They have noticed what is changing and what is missing. They care for what they have. But most important, they are willing to do what it takes to recover their forests and wildlife.

Here’s where biological sciences get social. It’s not only about nature, ecology, animal behavior and collecting data. It’s all about engaging people! It’s all about working hand in hand with the communities, listening to what they have to say. It’s about working together to find solutions to the environmental issues we are facing.

It takes a whole village to make conservation happen.

Participative mural at Osa Conservation for Alvaro Ugalde Day. Photo: Francine Guido-Solano.

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