GSE’s Eco-Action Education program in Bahia de Caraquez involves 125 students at 4 schools in restoring their local environment and engaging their community in sustainable practices. Local GSE Director Ramon Loor is a Natural Science teacher and a steward of la Punta Gorda Natural Preserve who connects students to projects focused on: reforestation, recycling, water scarcity, organic agriculture, climate change, and the effects these issues have on the local community.
GSE believes that through native reforestation, school gardens, habitat restoration, and community education, students in Bahía de Caráquez, Ecuador, will:
- Accelerate local ecological restoration through strategic equatorial native tree reforestation— mitigating climate change and erosion, and regenerating habitat.
- Deliver public education, leading to increased participation in recycling and composting programs
- Understand local environmental threats—and responsibilities—are consistent worldwide
- Experience international grassroots network-building of advocates for environmental change
- Build leadership, relationship, technical, and global citizenship skills that will prepare them for success in high school, university, and career settings
- Become the next generation of environmental innovators and community leaders
Ecuador’s varied geography, climates, and ecosystems make it one of the most diverse places in the world, both biologically and culturally. Bahia de Caraquez is a coastal community that was gravely affected by El Niño in 1997 and a devastating earthquake in 1998. Following these natural disasters, local environmental groups re-envisioned Bahia as an ‘Eco-City’ and the populace has since placed a growing emphasis to manage the city and surrounding area in a sustainable manner. Western Ecuador as a region has suffered some of the world’s worst rates of deforestation. GSE’s Eco-Action Education program engages the next generation in helping to develop a culture of environmentalism by teaching youth about environmental action such as reforestation of the Punta Gorda Natural Preserve.
THE IMPACT IS MULTIFACETED:
Reforestation, habitat restoration and addressing climate change: together Bahia participants and visiting students from Northern California have planted over 26,000 trees at La Punta Gorda Nature Preserve. Year-round Bahia students prepare for reforestation by collecting seeds for propagation and caring for seedlings that are subsequently planted during springtime exchanges. Reforestation at the equator is particularly effective at remediating global warming because heat helps create important water vapor off trees that combats global warming.
School Partnerships: students at 4 schools meet on a weekly basis to organize for projects, engage in youth leadership training and environmental education workshops.
Organic Garden Model: GSE projects serve as a model of organic agriculture that demonstrates the ability of local communities and individuals to adopt home gardening practices to grow large amounts of food in relatively small spaces.
Community Engagement: Students make presentations to classmates about the importance of environmental restoration and paint educational murals in partnership with the city government to educate locals about new composting and recycling programs. GSE students participate in days of action with their peers to get involved. Examples include coastal clean up days when trash is removed from the beaches and mangrove habitats.