ELTI: Protecting Forests in Panama
An article recently published by the California Academy of Sciences illustrates how the F&ES-based Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative (ELTI) is helping local communities protect their forest lands in Panama.
Reporting on a presentation made by Eva Garen, the ELTI director, and Jefferson Hall ’92 M.F.S. ’02 Ph.D., at the recent annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the article highlights how forests help regulate water flow, providing a critical service for people living in a watershed in western Panama.
Hall, a staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, makes the case that smart reforestation and land management is needed “for both the natural world and the humans that share it” — and that education can make a big difference for regional leaders. Garen, who helps provide training and mentorship that helps local people understand the links between their behavior and on the land around them, agreed. “Garen’s team has helped Panama ELTI alumni build cooperatives to make their voices stronger, and these farmers and ranchers have made a demonstrable difference, improving the health of the forest,” writes Molly Michelson.
The success they’ve had is remarkable. Using Panamanian farmers and ranchers as an example, many of the locals can see the benefits in terms of yields when they learn what the forest provides them, and begin using more sustainable practices. ELTI starts by providing a six-day training session with scientists such as Hall, who shares his knowledge about forests and limited water resources, and then provides follow up and further post-training support. Garen’s team has helped Panama ELTI alumni build cooperatives to make their voices stronger, and these farmers and ranchers have made a demonstrable difference, improving the health of the forest.
With this work in Panama and Honduras… science is taking a new direction toward making a change in the natural world.
ELTI recently completed a field-based course, taught in Spanish, at its permanent training site in Panama. That course aims to guide foresters, natural resources managers and other professional practitioners to make informed decisions about the management, use, and restoration of tropical forests. View photos below