Business ideas for Conservation

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Otonga Cloud Forest

I’ve been called ‘idealist” several times in my life, especially when the discussions are around business, consumption patterns and biodiversity conservation. BUT I do believe that there are different ways of doing business, different ways of consuming…and more important I do believe that business can enhance the protection of the natural environment and that consumers have the right and the power of choosing sustainable and ethical products. Here are some of my ideas of innovative business models that might work…

Wild orange marmalade from Otonga- My business innovation idea for the conservation of the Otonga Cloud Forest- part 1

In a nutshell, the idea is to sell the best wild orange marmalade to the best restaurant(s) in Quito. The chef will prepare the best dessert based on wild orange marmalade and row sugar from the Otonga Cloud forest. The best-informed clients  will attend the restaurant and pay a fair price for eating a delicious dessert that has a social and environmental purpose. The owner of the restaurant, will invest part of its revenues in the sustainability of its source of production (wild oranges + row sugar + local entrepreneurs of the area). Sounds good right?naranja agria

Benefits:

– The environment is seen as an opportunity for investment rather than as an externality.

– Profit for the marmalade producers and the restaurant.

– Low-income communities in Ecuador can improve their livelihoods by running social enterprises compatible with biodiversity conservation.

– Protection of the cloud forest in Ecuador

– Awareness rising among consumers in Quito

Who’s joining me in my start-up? 😉

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Quito-Ecuador

Time to let the soul lead…

…and listen to the forest ooooonce again!

This week has been full of good news, surprises and whispers from the forest telling me to not lose focus and reminding me of my inner motivation in life. I went back to the cloud forest today, met Oscar, one of the youth entrepreneur that will benefit from Vivamos el Bosque. A warm conversation showed me again the reason I put all my enegies in protecting the Otonga Cloud Forest and all its beautiful people. We planned together the coming social entrepreneurship pilot program that will involved 7 youth from El Maltón Community. Thanks to Dekeyser and Friends Foundation who supported the project with 1000 Euros, the last weekend of October, Vivamos el Bosque will run its first educational program along with its second photography workshop with our friends from Tropical Herping… 🙂

So far the Social Entrepreneurship pilot program will bring 7 experts, including FLOARE and WIKIRI, friends of the Project that will share their social business experience and lessons learned to conduct the workshops. The topics are:

– Workshop 1: Product development: social enterpreneurship
– Workshop 2: Economic Sustainability
– Workshop 3: Financial management
– Workshop 4:Product design
– Workshop 5:Legal advice
– Workshop 6:Networking and communication
– Workshop 7:Sanitary requierements and permissions

At the end of my great visit to ¨El Maltón¨Community I had the chance to share some time with Don Amable Yanez, founder of ¨El Maltón¨ community who delighted me with one of his songs that I share here with you! Enjoy! and follow Vivamos el Bosque!

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The Web of Life World Tour: Ecuador

Do you remember what is “The Web of Life world Tour? ” mmmmmm… nop? a quick reminder for everybody. While in Germany at D&F Academy, the 13 fellows (including myself) of the Engage in Conservation Project mentored by Jane Goodall, organized the “The Web Of Life World Tour: Hamburg” to share our findings from collaborating at D&F Academy and to engage in an open exchange with guests from our host city Hamburg. We aimed to raise questions about the nature of the Web of Life and what can be done to preserve and restore it worldwide. We dreamed of organizing the Web of Life in our countries and encourage all Roots & Shoots groups to do the same. That is how The Web of Life World Tour: Ecuador was born. I decided to organize with the community of El Malton an event on the 27th of July 2012 to offer a variety of activities to engage community members and guests in biodiversity conservation, providing a space to discover the community’s needs and assets and meet youth talents. A traditional community fair provided a framework for many conversations and allowed guests to interact with community members and understand their social and economic situation. There we had the chance to taste delicious traditional snacks from the area, including pineapple mermelade, sugar cane syrup, home made cookies, green plantain chips and more.

Then, we all had the chance to experience the unique ambiance created by the theatrical performance of the Council of All Beings, which was hosted by children from the school of El Maltón. Children represented many animals from the Otonga forest and speak out from their perspective. They shared their concerns with their human fellows.

The bees, the armadillo, the golden beetle, the frog and many more raise their voice during the event.
Finally, to close The Web of Life World Tour: Ecuador, a professional group of acrobates and theatre performers, engaged everybody in a highly interactive discussion about biodiversity conservation.

Childen, youth and adults shared a beautiful moment and committed to protect the Otonga cloud forest. People live the forest, respect the forest and help each other to build a better future for their families.

Thank you to all Vivamos al Bosque Team, Giovanni Onore and to Otonga Foundation for their support! It was an unforgettable day 😉

Time time time to catch up! Photography workshop 1

I can finally take a deep breath and share with you all about the last two months of Vivamos el Bosque! July and August have been very intense, busy and really great for the project!

As planned… Vivamos el Bosque team has organized and completed successfully its first photography workshop in collaboration with our friends from Tropical Herping. From July 24th to July 29th, 11 participants received 6 hours of theory in Quito about the basics of photography; and they spent two days in the Cloud Forest, where they discovered the magic of the Otonga Forest and had the chance to share a special time with the community of El Maltón. It was a pleasure for me to receive 9 participants from Quito and two special guests from Chile that were travelling in Ecuador when they found out about the workshop. Thank you very much to all the participants, the instructors and our friend and volunteer Celina Perez-Beck for getting involved with Vivamos el Bosque fundraising activities.

The photography workshop had three main objectives. To raise awareness about the importance of protecting the cloud forest in Ecuador; to engage more people in biodiversity conservation through Vivamos el Bosque and to fundraise for the project. I am glad that our 11 participants had the chance to learn from the experts about nature photography while getting to know about Vivamos el Bosque initiative and its close connection with the communities surrounding the otonga cloud forest.

Thank you to all of you for your support and keep in mind that more workshops are coming soon!!

Here, a picture taken by one of our participants, Alejandro Miranda.

A wonderful week in the Cloud Forest by Celina Perez-Beck

I’m Celina Perez Beck, a volunteer of Live the Forest. I spent a week in the community El Malton together with Anggie Escalante and Paola Zambrano, also volunteers, working with the people there, mostly with the kids. When we arrived to the community everybody was so welcoming that it made me feel that I was part of them.

We went to the school every morning to work with the children. We did activities like the Tree of Life, where every kid wrote its own pledge and commitment with the environment in a leaf forming a tree with all of them together. We also did the Cloud of Dreams where each of them writes their dreams in a cloud forming the sky.

They all worked great with us, from the youngest one to the oldest one in a single class. They were all so greatfull and glad to have us there, and that made us really happy.
One night we organized the screening of a film for all the people of the community. This activity was meant to involve youth from the area to know more aout their interests. It was not that successful because the film was about nature and I think they expected something else, but we still had a great time. The good thing is that the gathering attractes all the youth from the community! It was a pleasure to know that they are open to doing activities like this all together organized from people like us.

We also asked teenagers if they were interested in having courses to learn other things for them at the community since they don’t have that kind of education there, and it was so good to know that they do want to learn. They asked for computer and English courses.
I want to thank everybody from El Malton for making my week a great experience for me, and especially to the teacher of the school, Glenda, and her family for letting me stay at their home the hole week and for treating me like I was really special.

The Earth is not just a planet…it is HOME!!

“The natural environment we treat with such unnecessary ignorance and recklessness was our cradle and nursery, our school, and remains our one and only home.”
-Edward O. Wilson (2002)

I feel touched every time I read Ed Wilson’s quote. I do think about it and it is difficult for me not to care about the Earth and not to see it as much more than just a planet. What is home for you? For me it is a place and a space where I belong to, I care, I look after and can’t live without. It is where I found peace, understanding and love. I’ve been asking myself how can I share my passion with my peers and how can I engage more and more people in this crazy love for life in the Earth.

I’ve been interested in the topic of Conservation of Biodiversity for quite a long time. Fisrt from the scientific side, understanding biodiversity at its more basic level, then from the social side, understanding the knowledge, believes and perceptions of people who rely on biodiversity and now, I am in the practical side, where I hope I can facilitate a lasting change in the Otonga Cloud forest and its communities.

I see “Vivamos el Bosque” as seeds of hope and consciousness with the potential to empower children and youth to help each other to build a better world. Why did I choose non formal environmental education as the foundation of the project? Well, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) environmental education is the process of giving people the skills, perspectives, knowledge and values to live and work in a sustainable manner. The definition is sometimes difficult to understand and apply but I take “Vivamos el Bosque” as a response to the Earth’s call for help and action… as an invitation to integrate the principles, values and practices of sustainable development into all aspects of our lives.

The importance of non-formal environmental education in developing countries is self-explanatory in the context of Ecuador where factors such as illiteracy, low levels of schooling, high rates of failures and desertions at the primary school level, deficiency in the public services infrastructures and poor educational materials have challenged the implementation of EE programs at the formal level. In 1994, the Ministry of Education of Ecuador incorporated the preservation of the environment as part of its educational system in order to guarantee local, regional and national development, but due to the unstable economic situation, civil organizations and the private sector were forced to assume some of the basic responsibilities of the government such as education and health.

Within contexts where EE at the formal level is limited, experiences had shown that livelihoods in poor communities in developing countries can be improved through non-formal EE education initiatives such as “Vivamos el Bosque”. Therefore, non-formal EE has been an important instrument for rural development since it involves innovative learning methods organized outside the formal school system that aim at developing practical skills, including aspects of health, sanitation and literacy to be applied in real life.

With this scenario in mind, and based on the premise that health and well-being depend upon the quality of the environment, EE and its varied learning process, blend local knowledge with technical/scientific information to foster dialogue, create action oriented solutions, and drive behavioral change instead of only delivering environmental messages to community members.

Environmental education should reach everybody, but for me, children and youth are the ones who can get the most of it. Environmental education can easily show them that it is possible to live in harmony with nature. On one side, children and youth should be aware of the current environmental crisis but they need to be empowered to work for another reality and have the skills to do it! The intention is not to blame on anybody or depress young generations, but to give them hope and inspiration. “Vivamos el Bosque” aims to empower them to become part of the solution. By giving children and youth the space and time for dialogue, reflexion and action, they can choose and build the HOME they want to live in…

What the educational program for children and the one for youth entail will be explained in detail in a separate section. Keep Checking the blog and thank you for all your inputs!

It is easy to dream, isn´t it?

“To Accomplish Great Things, We Must Not Only Act, But Also Dream; Not Only Plan But Also Believe” – Anatole France

Dreaming about the life you would like to live it’s an easy task, isn’t it? You just need to put on your wings and start flying! Your imagination and creativity will take you to the most exciting places you would like to visit, or help you build as much castles on the clouds as you want, right? Yeap! Easy task! Nothing wrong with it since everything is allowed to happen in our dreams…

We all have dreams, and I have plenty of them! It would take me forever to tell you about all my dreams but there is one in particular that I would like to share. I dream on helping to protect one the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, a cloud forest located in the northwest slopes of the Andean Region. Why is it so important to protect it? To give you an idea the forest is part of one of the biggest hotspots of biodiversity in the world, it covers an area of 1000ha from which 80% is still primary forest, and it is an important water reservoir for the lower areas in Ecuador. In addition to the value of the forest, Otonga is full of wonderful people who struggle to cover their basic needs and rely on the forest resources.

How am I going do that? My plan is to develop an environmental education program for children and a social entrepreneurship program for youth in the area. I hope the program will empower young generations, give them hope, inspiration and the skills to live in harmony with nature. Keep reading the blog and check out how the project is coming along 😉