¨Let us not forget that one book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world.¨- Malala Yousafzai
“Vivamos el Bosque Otonga” started in 2012 when as part of a year long social entrepreneurship for conservation programme at the DO School , Germany, I had the immense opportunity to meet our mentor for the year, Jane Goodall! Yes!!!! in person! Inspired by her conservation journey, I decided to start a blog and share the story about my own conservation/sustainability journey, and share how little by little I turn my ideas into actions
“Vivamos el Bosque Otonga” was conceived as an initiative that aimed to inspire children, and build capacities of youth to lead and be an influence in the conservation and sustainability of their land. To achieve that aim, I run: 1) a social entrepreneurship programme for young rural Ecuadorians to proactively improve their livelihood whilst simultaneously protecting their habitat, and 2) a non-formal environmental education for children at schools. I fundraised for it and implemented it successfully.
What is Otonga? where is Otonga? and why is it so important to protect it?
The Otonga reserve is located in the Ecuadorian northwest Andean region between 600 and 2300 meters above sea level. It covers an area of 2000ha from which 80% is primary forest and 18% is secondary forest.
The western slopes of the Andes Cordillera, where the reserve is located, is considered one the most important hotspots of biodiversity in the world characterized by its high endemism. The Otonga cloud forest serves as important water reservoir for the lower areas of the region and is home for amazing and unique plants and animals such as orquids, the famous Olinguito and the Andean bear.
Despite its ecological importance, the areas surrounding the forest face important landuse changes and are characterized by unsustainable agricultural practices and high rates of deforestation.
Luckily, the Otonga reserve has many guardians… Giovanni Onore is one of them… he is the founder of the Otonga foundation and has done an intense work protecting the forest and improving the access to education of children in the surrounding communities. Giovanni believes in the power of education and how providing opportunities for children can ensure biodiversity conservation in the long run. The foundation has provided over 1000 scholarships in 14 years to children and youth of the area. Any of us can support the Foundation by sponsoring a child here. In addition the foundation has provided support to improve the agricultural practices of the communities, by strengthening capacities around beekeeping, livestock and tagua production.
As part of the Otonga’s program of research, education and biodiversity management, the foundation built a Center for Environmental Research and Education, Otongachi, in 2004, and has the plan to build a lodge as a source of income to maintain the reserve. The main goal of the Center is to host schools of every level, including the ones from the local communities to spread and reinforce the awareness and action toward the protection of cloud forest while building local capacities for alternative livelihood practices.
Under this context, “Vivamos el Bosque” explores innovative options to support the Foundation’s endeavours and overall the conservation of the Cloud Forest in Ecuador.
Keep following Vivamos en Bosque’s journey! and please know that all your feedback, comments or inputs are more than welcome!
Let’s all stand up! stand out! and make a difference!