The Jama-Coaque Reserve is adjacent to the small agricultural community of Camarones. The long-term stewardship of this critically-endangered ecosystem, which sustains the fresh water supply and other vital life-support systems for Camarones, ultimately depends on the members of the community themselves. TMA’s Outreach Program is aimed at cultivating a new generation of young leaders and future conservationists in Camarones through the following activities:
- Creating local job opportunities through reserve management, scientific research, forest restoration activities, and ecological tourism
- Youth education in the Community Learning Center
- Leadership training and organic gardening through our local youth group program
Local Job Opportunities:
Historically, forest-clearing and resource-extraction activities provided most of the jobs in Camarones, which included logging, hunting, slash-and-burn agriculture, and cattle ranching. TMA is working to reverse that trend by creating local job opportunities and economic incentives in the following fields:
- Reserve Administration (park rangers, administrators, managers)
- Scientific Research (field guides, field technicians, logistics)
- Forest Restoration (tree planting and maintenance, tree nursery management)
- Ecological Tourism (nature trail guides, trail construction, trail marketing and administration, related micro-enterprises)
Community Learning Center:
TMA built a community center in 2009-2010, where we provided environmental education to children five days a week. Over 60 youths were educated in 2012. The center is now used by community members, and TMA partner The Biodiversity Group, which runs the youth program PEEK, focusing on nature photography with the aim to encourage development in the arts and foster connections to the outdoors.
In 2012, TMA created a local youth group that worked with 12 teenagers in Camarones. The primary project of the Youth Group was the development and management of a small-scale organic farm. Building and managing a small plot of land for organic food production likewise provided youth with opportunities to develop critical-thinking skills and business acumen, all built upon a strong foundation of environmental stewardship.
As of mid-2013, we have taken a step back from community programs to focus on cultivating the Research Station as a renowned scientific investigation site. Our partner The Biodiversity Group continues to work with youth in the PEEK program, and we periodically work with the Ecuadorian government to host workshops to certify trail guides and park rangers, providing an economically beneficial alternative to cattle ranching and drug trafficking. Our mission of providing local job opportunities has not changed, and we often invite community members to actively participate in our reforestation projects.
TMA’s ongoing projects with members of Camarones include the reforestation of cattle pasture to an active agro-forestry site, development of local soap business with the women of Camarones, and Biodiversity PEEK. Interns will have opportunities to occasionally work with members of Camarones on these projects during their time in the Reserve.