The 42nd anniversary of Earth Day was last Sunday, April 22nd. Did you do something to celebrate? Around the world people held festivals, seminars, classes, clean ups and other exciting and fun activities to honor the earth.
In honor of Earth Day, we are going to spend the next few days explore some exciting international stories about what people are doing to help conserve the environment! Check out two below!
Conservation International: Kampong Parak Fish Sanctuary, Cambodia
Conservation International (CI) received a small grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Regional Environmental Office in Bangkok , in August 2010 to improve the protection and management of the Kampong Parak Freshwater Sanctuary on Cambodia’s Tonlé Sap inland lake.
The Tonlé Sap is actually a combined lake and river system of critical environmental importance to Cambodia and the Lower Mekong Delta. The lake, present only during the season when the river floods, is considered the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia. It is also one of the most productive inland fisheries in the world, providing over three million people with food and income, and accounting for more than 75 percent of Cambodia’s annual inland fish catch. Further, the Tonlé Sap is home to rare endangered species including the Mekong Giant Catfish.
Through this small grant, CI provided the Cambodia Fisheries Authority’s (FiA) lake patrol teams with a ranger station, powerful boats, and other equipment needed for efficient patrolling, and trained them in use of MIST – Management Information Systems software designed to help monitor ranger activities and findings. CI also worked with local communities to select six dry season ponds for conservation, as these were identified as key for fish breeding and dry season wildlife refuge. The six ponds were mapped and physically demarcated with signs. Community management plans were then developed.
To create new habitat for breeding fish and as a refuge during the fishing season, CI also created artificial reefs at key sites. The artificial reefs consist of large concrete rings with holes where the fish can hide. The rings will also help to prevent illegal fishing activities, as they damage trawling nets pulled through the area during the peak fishing season when the water levels are low. In consultation with the local communities, 80 units were deployed in two key areas.
Finally, CI prepared a series of awareness and education sessions for Tonlé Sap patrol teams and communities on topics such as the Tonlé Sap ecosystem, use of natural resources, threats to resources, relevant laws, and human health. These were distributed to the target population groups between January and March 2011.
Lower Mekong Initiative Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment Workshop
The REO team attended the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Train-the-Trainer workshop held at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai, Thailand from January 23-28. The week-long workshop was another Regional Environmental Office funded small grant program awarded to Thailand’s Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology (IPST) which catered to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educators with the support of the GLOBE program. The GLOBE program focuses on collaboration among student, teachers, educators, scientists, government officials and others around the world to improve education and attain better understanding of the earth system.
The workshop served as a unique opportunity for participants to become officially certified by GLOBE as national trainers qualified to lead teacher training in their respective countries, leading to a collaborative research among students, teachers and scientists on Earth System Science. The workshop qualified 60 trainers and 5 master trainers from Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam. The material covered at the workshop included atmosphere, hydrology, land cover and soil protocols.
The LMI GLOBE workshop began with an opening ceremony where Rick Switzer, Regional ESTH officer, gave introductory remarks on the importance of science activities as a means for having a sustainable environment. After the welcoming ceremony concluded, participants were split into two groups to begin training on the basic GLOBE protocols. The first two days were dedicated to land cover and soil, while the remaining time was spent on atmosphere and hydrology protocols.
The break-out sessions were particularly useful and entailed several different teaching methods to keep the participants engaged. The instructors utilized computers, textbooks, visual demonstrations and field work to help the participants fully understand the protocols. A large part of the day was dedicated to practicing experiments outside on the beautiful campus. Participants were able to get their hands dirty as they physically practiced the experiments in order to be better able to teach them in the future.
The workshop was deemed to be a success by all involved. As Dr. Sompong noted, “the goal of this program is to get your students to think about their environment in a different way and ask ‘why’.” By instilling curiosity and the desire to learn about the environment in children at an early age, you promote thoughtful communities and help create adults that can make informed decisions. Not only was this workshop a success as each country was able to increase their stock of qualified trainers, but it also served as a platform for LMI countries to network and share ideas.