The last twelve months have been challenging, but we’ve still been able to make a big impact.

The communities we work with have done a lot this year to protect biodiversity.

Put simply, our mission is to empower local people to manage and conserve natural resources and to encourage global adoption of community-based conservation.

We’ve separated the accomplishments, which our supporters and donors have made possible, into two categories: doing community-based conservation and spreading community-based conservation.

DOING Community-Based Conservation

These impacts involve working with local communities as they protect biodiversity in their own backyards. Most of these people live in villages located next to protected areas.

1. Wildlife Monitoring Training in Jhapa, Nepal

Prior to the pandemic, we were able to complete the latest in a series of community trainings in the eastern Terai landscape of Nepal. In January, trainees in the Jhapa district learned how to use GPS and wildlife cameras to monitor local species of wildlife.

The next training is fully planed and includes a new focus on endangered pangolins. As soon as we know when it will be safe to gather in person, we will choose a date for the training. In the meantime, the community forestry groups are still patrolling and monitoring for illegal activities inside the forests.

Our long-term goal in Nepal is a big one: a community-managed wildlife corridor that would help Bengal tigers, Asian elephants and other species travel more freely.

2. Community Gardens in Ecuador

Community Conservation helped construct organic community gardens in the village of Sumaco, Ecuador.

The village of Sumaco, Ecuador lies in the heart of three globally important protected areas on the Eastern slope of the Andes, with lush forests that many vulnerable and threatened species such as mountain tapir and Andean bear call home. The people there have been interested in the idea of establishing a community-managed sanctuary. Before the pandemic, we had been planning a community training session there. But due to the pandemic, the village is now facing food insecurity.

These large wildlife-friendly gardens will help people and biodiversity in Sumaco: they reduce pressure on the forests to provide food to the human community. Read the full story here.

3. Villages clean up plastic waste near Rakhine Yoma Elephant Sanctuary, Myanmar

Young people in two villages in Myanmar joined together to help wildlife by improving water quality. They had observed that the water quality in the stream next to their villages was very poor. Plastic waste and litter were accumulating, which negatively affects wildlife. They also observed that their fellow villagers had limited knowledge about biodiversity and sustainable fishing practices. The community members made a plan to remedy this, and we were happy to help them take action. 

They coordinated and led groups of youth volunteers to clean up the plastic. They also plan to start dialog about sustainable fishing practices. We are glad that Community Conservation could help from afar. Read more about how the community members proposed this project here.

4. Otter Booklets for Communities in Nepal

Lastly, we were pleased to support the creation, printing, and distribution of new informational booklets about Eurasian otters and smooth-coated otters, created by Sagar Dahal at Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation (one of our partner organizations in Nepal).

Otters are difficult animals to track and record. Conventional methods such as camera trapping have not been found effective for them, and otters look similar to many other commonly found small carnivore species such as mongoose and civets.

Protected area leaders are being asked to share these booklets with field staff so they are better able to report otters encountered during their regular field monitoring. The information will be collected and analyzed by the local otter researcher so we can better understand their distribution and the threats they face.

Otter photos by Mark Longair and Marie Hale via Creative Commons.

SPREADING Community-Based Conservation

These impacts involve sharing stories of community conservation, educating conservation professionals and increasing awareness among the general public.

  • Created new “how-to” resources for conservation professionals
  • Launched revamped Video Lecture Series
  • Hosted an online screening of the film Bird of Prey (the story of community-based conservation of the Philippine eagle)
  • Educated an average of 3,000 people per month about people-focused conservation via our website and social media – a big boom of an increase, compared to last year’s 2,000!
  • Welcomed three new board members, who bring a wealth of experience to improve both our impact and reach

The effect of COVID-19

People’s safety is our top priority. Although we’ve been able to accomplish a great deal this year, the parts of our work that involve gathering people together (such as community trainings) are currently on hold. Both the next Biodiversity Heroes training in Myanmar and the next wildlife monitoring training in Nepal are waiting for the okay from public health authorities. We are ready to choose dates and move forward whenever it becomes safe to do so.

In the case of Ecuador, COVID-19 required us to shift our focus from the community training (which would be unsafe) to something that would address the food insecurity the issue the village was facing while also protecting biodiversity. Luckily, there was a way to do both: the construction of large organic gardens.

During this time, we have also been able to create new educational resources for both conservation professionals and the general public. So many people are sitting at home, but not idly – we have seen that people are interested in improving their skills and knowledge about community-based conservation. We were glad to offer new tools to help them accomplish that.

Thank you for your support

We are so grateful to our supporters this year for your ongoing commitment to Community Conservation during this difficult time. Our work with communities is still going strong, thanks to you!

For more examples of the successes of community-based conservation, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.