Community Presence

Working with locals to protect the land

Much of Chucantiis surrounded by communities of colonistas, mostly farmers and cattle ranchers. Culturally, they come from the savanna regions of western panama, but many of these families have been here for generations. They still retain a strong “cowboy” culture, with music, horse riding, and Panamanian yodeling an integral part of their lives. For the longest time, they had been eking out a living in the deep jungles by clearing a bit of land for cattle, and subsistence farming the rest. With the relatively recent introduction of roads, electricity, herbicides, and seeing the higher standard of living for city dwellers, the amount of damage done to the forest has accelerated tremendously. Like most cultures on earth, peoples attitudes don’t keep pace with the change of environment. What used to be an endless forest with humans living at the fringes is rapidly becoming a dry and barren wasteland that is not even capable of supporting cattle in the dry season. Like so many people in the world, these communities will unknowingly destroy the very thing that gives them life.
Our Goal at ADOPTA is not to step in as benevolent saviors from the outside world, displacing the locals. We strive to always work with local communities- employing locals when possible, taking them with us on research trips, and giving hands on lessons at schools, and teaching alternative ways to use the forests bounty to support their families.
Here are some of the main ways we wish to promote this:

Reforestation, agro-forestry, alternative livestock

Without the cover of dense vegetation, many of the rivers and streams that the community depends on are drying up completely. With the right knowledge, and teachers on the ground, we can show them the how to reforest these waterways and basins with productive fruit and nut trees, so that we don’t have to ask people to choose between feeding their families and having enough water.
Shade grown cocoa and coffee are also promising industries, since they require the cover of other trees to produce their very marketable produce.
Additionally, alternative livestock can be used to produce meat without having to convert the landscape to grasslands. Iguana farming requires large trees as a food source for the iguanas, and can produce as much meat per acre as cattle! Iguana meat is a historically important and valued meat in central America, the green iguanas native habitat, but hunting and habitat destruction is rapidly depleting the wild stock.

Community integration

The best way to save a forest is to have people on your side. The best way to get people on your side is to become part of their communities and exchange knowledge in an open and understanding way.
All our on site field guides are locals, many of them living right on the edge of the forests that we are saving. These hard working and intelligent people are the ideal guardians for the old growth- their families have been here for decades, and the forests are an important place for them. Traditionally, they are the hunters and mountain men. But as more and more of the forest is lost, they begin to notice that the once plentiful animals of their childhood are becoming scarce or disappearing entirely. Together with our scientists, they can understand the change they are seeing, and find ways to preserve their ways of life without destroying the ancient woodlands. Meet some of the locals we work with:

Education

Children are our greatest natural resource, because they will grow up to be the scientists and conservations we need to face future environmental problems. We work with local schools to show the kids what is happening with the natural world, and give them intimate experiences with wildlife. Many Panamanian children cant even name some of the amazing mammals that live in their country! Go to Albrook mall, the largest mall in panama, and you see statues of lions, zebras, elephants, and all the normal animals kids are taught about. Where are the Jaguars, ocelots, capybaras, tayras, tapirs, capuchin monkeys, and bushdogs that are native to Panama? Making people aware and reverent of the local fauna is a big step towards conservation. People wont fight to save what they don’t understand, in fact, they will usually fear it!

Here are some of the schools we work with. If you would like to have us come to your school or organization, or help arrange you to come to us, please send us a message!

Gallery

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