The ProEcoPelaos sail off into the blue for International Oceans Month

Fig. 1. The Pro Eco Pelaos say goodbye after a productive day of whale-watching.

The ProEcoPelaos children’s group enjoyed a wonderful blue whale-watching adventure in the Pablo Arturo Barrios Wildlife Refuge in September, international oceans month.

THE ADVENTURE

Fig. 2. The Pro Eco Pelaos waiting to set sail for the open sea.

It all started on a sunny and pleasant afternoon, under a radiant sun that made the small sand particles shine, when the Pro Eco Pelaos gathered at Arenal Beach, prepared to go out on the wide blue open sea awaiting them. Four boats carrying a total of 27 people embarked into the waves of the Refuge, getting closer and closer to their whale-watching destination. The magnificent Iguana Island seemed to greet them, exposing all of its natural beauty full of flora and fauna that are part of an interconnected ecosystem shared with its neighbor, the Pablo Arturo Barrios Wildlife Refuge. As they set sail, the Pro Eco Pelaos were able to observe interesting species.

Fig. 3. Edward Garcia, AEP program leader, with the Pro Eco Pelaos.

The hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) passed by the boat and seemed sad because humans threw garbage into their homes; dolphins (Delphinus delphis) were jumping, trying to watch the sun; flying fish (Exocoetus volitans) wanted to reach the sky; sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus) hurried by; seabirds were searching for food; and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) joyfully showed off their large size. The children’s eyes were shining in wonder as they explored how beautiful nature is and that how taking care of it is our human responsibility, taking this message with them once their feet touched the ground again and they headed home. Despite having lived their whole lives close to the sea, for some of the Pro Eco Pelaos, this was the first time they had set out to see their neighbors, the whales.

Fig. 4. Pro Eco Pelaos smile despite the wind and the foam as they sail in search for whales.

“This experience with the Pro Eco Pelaos was very beautiful and different, and I saw a lot of animals like dolphins, whales and turtles. Although I was in the open sea I was not scared. I have been participating in this initiative for 7 years now and I still love it” – Michell Pérez (member of the Pro Eco Pelaos).

 

 

 

PARTICIPANTS

Twenty-one children and six accompanying adults participated in this activity which is supported by the LATA Foundation as a part of their collaboration with us to support the Pablo Barrios Refuge, Tortugas Pedasí, the SINAPROC office in Pedasí, La Maestra restaurant, and the Peace Corps.

Groups of young people committed to protecting the Tonosí river basin and the Parita River

Fig. 1. Cleaning Búcaro beach with the youth group of the I.P.T.A. of Tonosí, 27 th July 2018.

The 26 th and 27 th July, we participated in the cleaning of beaches organized by the agroecological groups of the I.P.T.A. of Tonosí (Unit for the protection of the environment) and of the I.P.T.A. of Las Minas (Pack of youth captains saving the flora and fauna). The first cleaning was undertaken the 26th July in the beach El Retén together with the group
Las Minas and the 27th July in the beach Búcaro together with the group Tonosí. Moreover, members of the Peace Corps and Tortugas Pedasí also participated.

 

 

Fig. 2. So small and delicate, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths in the ocean.
The objective

Cleaning the beaches is a major concern for these youth groups because they know the direct impacts within their communities if garbage is thrown into the rivers, given that the stream of the water will transport all the garbage to the beaches, which affects the beauty of the beaches, contaminates the rivers and the ocean, and leads to the death of
thousands of marine species.

 

Fig. 3. The image shows the map of the river basin of Tonosí, which the youth group of the
I.P.T.A of Tonosí are committed to protect.
Fig. 4. The group of the I.P.T.A. of Tonosí after a day of cleaning beaches, 27 th July
2018.
The result

In the beach El Retén, a total of 15 bags of garbage have been recollected, whereas in the beach Búcaro 11 bags have been recollected. This makes 26 bags of garbage which otherwise would have ended up in the ocean, where a great quantity of marine species would be severely in danger.

 

Fig. 5. Young adolescents of the I.P.T.A. of Las Minas cleaning the beach El Retén, 25 th July 2018.
The organizers

The creation of the agroecological groups of the I.P.T.A. of Tonosí and Las Minas is an initiative supported by MiAmbiente, F.A.O. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and the Ecological Project Azuero, so that they could be young leaders within their respective communities. The aim was to implement activities to raise
awareness in the communities, to conserve the natural resource of the river basins of Tonosí and Parita, agriculture, livestock, and to carry out diverse types of activities in favor of the preservation of the environment, thereby promoting the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals No. 6 (Clean wáter and sanitation), 12 (Responsible

Fig. 6. The group of the I.P.T.A. of Las Minas after a day of cleaning beaches, 25 th July 2018.

consumption and production), 13 (Climate action), 14 (Life below water) y 15 (Life on land).


 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 7. The image shows the map of the river basin of Parita, which the youth group of the I.P.T.A of Las Minas are committed to protect.

 

 

Reforesting in Azuero

The rainy season has begun in Azuero and with that, so has our reforestation season. This year 2018 between the months of July and August we have reforested 6 farms..

Fig. 1. day of reforestation of a farm in the surrounding areas of Venao with Soyuz Bilingual School, on August 17th.

 

Fig. 2. The image shows a Guanabana plant (Annona Muricata), which has been planted during the reforestation day in Nuario, 28 th august.
The reforestations

At the Azuero Earth Project, we specifically seek out hard-to-access areas for our reforestation projects, reforesting on steep slopes and marginal lands distant from roads and close to streams. These areas are often unsuitable for other uses but are very important for protecting watersheds and wildlife. Starting from as early as 7 am until 1 pm, many of the reforestations were undertaken under difficult conditions such as difficult access both regarding distance and significant obstacles, heavy rains, slippery ground, slopes and streams. These were some of the few challenges we encountered during this gratifying task for the preservation of the forest of the peninsula of Azuero.

 

 

 

 

 

The results

Until this moment in 2018, we have planted approx. 1644 seedlings in the areas of Nuario, Venao and Bajo Corral. In doing so, we have benefitted 6 farmers in the area, preserved the ecosystems of unique species in Azuero like the spider monkey of Azuero (Ateles geoffroyi azuerensis), conserved the river basins, mitigated climate change, ensured productive sustainability, and diversified the production of the farms in the future with delicious fruits and other products stemming from the trees.

 

 

Fig. 3. Ruth Metzel supports a young student of the CADI Bilingual Academy in the shadow of a tree during the reforestation day in Nuario, 17 th august.
Our support

All of the reforestations were only possible thanks to the effort and the enthusiasm of diverse entities and institutions such as: Soyuz Bilingual School, Colegio María Manuel Tejada Roca, C.A.D.I Bilingual Academy, Peace Corps Panama ( Cuerpo de Paz ), MEDUCA Herrera, ATP, Colegio Plinio Moscoso, the municipality of Pedasí, Restaurant La Maestra, U.P.M.A. Tonosí, Manada de Capitanes Las Minas, volunteers and the communities of each of the different areas we have reforested. We thank Prince Bernhard Nature Fund, Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and American Forests for their financial support of this project.

 

   ¿Are you interested in reforesting?
Fig. 4. The plant nursery coordinator, Jairo Batista, and reforester Edgar Medina transport seedlings to a reforestation site close to Venao, 25 th July.

If you want to learn more about the work of the Ecological Project Azuero you can follow us by searching for @proecoazuero in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For any consultation: 995-2995, or info@proecoazuero.org. If you want to support our reforestation program you can contact us, visit our office in Pedasí or you can follow this link to make a donation: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/support-riparian-reforestation-with-azuero-farmers/

 

Fig. 5. Participants in a reforestation day in La Miel organized by the Peace Corps, 28th July.

Azuero Spider Monkey School Initiative: The Future in Small Steps

The Azuero Spider Monkey School Initiative is an initiative that collaborates with the primary schools closest to the remaining habitat of the Azuero Spider Monkey as well as surrounding communities. The primary goal with this initiative is to communicate the importance of Spider Monkeys in its local environment, the dangers that these animals face related to hunting, development and deforestation, and finally, the uniqueness of the dry forest ecosystem, and how reforestation can be as good for the environment as for agricultural productivity. This year the program benefits more than 430 people and works with 8 schools in the province of Los Santos, more specifically in Bayano, Bajo Corral, Los Asientos, Colán, Nuario, Vallerriquito, La Miel and Oria Arriba.

Fig. 1. The image shows the children of the School of Colán working.

The program was initially imagined in order to support the biological corridor that is of special interest for the Azuero Ecological Project. For several years, the Azuero Earth Project has been working in order to protect this corridor, as well as its unique species, spme of them being critically endangered of extinction, such as the Azuero Spider Monkey (Ateles geoffroyi azuerensis). This corridor begins in the bay of Achotines, and extends itself to the village of Oria Arriba, passing through the town of La Miel and finally reaching with the La Tronosa Forest Reserve (see Fig. 2). For this reason, these schools cover a large part of this corridor, and the vision of this program aims to promote the role of its children, together with their parents and communities, become the conservators of this important environment in the future.

Before carrying out any activities related to reforestation or habitat restoration in the area, the first step is for the members to get to know each other better through community conversations that arise during the course of the Azuero Spider Monkey Initiative. In this way, the Initiative resembles a forum to the restoration actions in the field along the corridor.

Fig. 2. The image shows the ecological corridor of interest for the Azuero Ecological Project, which extends from the coasts of Achotines to connect with the forest reserve La Tronasa.

Through this initiative, and with these communities, we contribute to sustainable development objectives such as quality education (ODS # 4), clean water and sanitation (ODS # 6), responsible production and consumption (ODS # 12), action by the climate (ODS # 13) and life of terrestrial ecosystems (ODS # 15). A focal objective, is to expose students to their environment and the surrounding natural areas, teach them the meaning of conservation under a scientific and practical scope, communicate the importance of reforestation in the classroom and in the field, and involve the local communities and parents in activities and field trips with students, in order to create a connection with the children, teachers, and ultimately, community members involved in the project.

 

 

 

 

At the end of this school initiative, students will be able to: Describe what deforestation is in their own words, name the causes and effects of deforestation, name trees on which the Spider Monkey depends, identify the three most common monkeys in Azuero, describe how the forests help human beings, describe what is understood by “equilibrium” with regards to nature and the environment, describe erosion, as well as the causes and effects of pollution, differentiate between climate and time, and name at least three causes of climate change in the world and locally amongst others.

If you are interested in participating in this initiative, follow our pages on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, call us at 995-2995 / 6717-3331, write to us at info@proecoazuero.org / edward@proecoazuero.org or visit our office located in Pedasi.

Fig. 3. The image shows a group photo with the children of the School of Nuario after completing the day of learning.

An Environmental Parachute – Pro Eco Pelaos style!

Fig. 1. The image shows the parachute created by the ProEcoPela’os

 

Our Pro Eco Kids are embarked on an art project that will showcase their splendid talents and their profound sense of protection of their surroundings to the world. As a part of the “Parachutes for the Planet” initiative organized by the Mother Earth Project, they have created an artistic parachute that will be exhibited globally to encourage people everywhere to live sustainable and responsible lives that care for nature. The first exhibit of the parachutes will be in Washington, D.C. on July 21st and will be part of the youth-led “Thisiszerohour” Climate March.

To see upcoming exhibits enter the next link: https://motherearthproject.org/schedule/

Fig. 2. The image shows to ProEcoPelaos making the parachute

 

It was marvelous to observe these great small members of future generations pour their heart and soul into each pixel of color to benefit our future Earth, that each day sends us more cries for help. We know that these youth will be change agents to promote a culture of responsible resource use.

Do you have kids ages 5-12? Want to get involved with the Pro Eco Pelaos? Come to the Pro Eco Kids activity every Friday from 3-5 pm in our office in Pedasi. For more information on this community program and others,, contact us at (507) 995-2995 or info@proecoazuero.org.

Agro-Environmental Youth Groups test their water

The high-schoolers of the agricultural institutes of I.P.T.A. Tonosi (@upmatonosi) and I.P.T.A. Las Minas (@manadadecapitanes) had full days on May 15th and 16th.

Fig. 1. The image samples of the water PH test of the creek of the Tonosí Cocoa River.

 

THE STUDY

The students, together with teachers, personnel from the Panamanian Environmental Ministry’s Department of Soil Management and Conservation and our own Team Monkey, performed tests to measure water quality on the grounds of their Institutes and in their communities. These nascent youth groups, called the Environmental Protection Unit (in Tonosi) and the Herd of Adolescent Captains Saving Flora y Fauna (in Las Minas), tested water for pH, dissolved oxygen, phosphate, nitrate, turbidity, and presence of coliform bacteria, as well as general characteristics of the area such as soil and water odor and color, streambank erosion, and other characteristics.

Fig. 2. The image shows the young people of the I.P.T.A. of Las Minas taking data of the results obtained

 

RESULT

We congratulate our budding citizen scientists! The results of most of their tests show normal levels of different elements (however, they are confirming their results through a professional laboratory analysis), except for the phosphate test that revealed high levels of phosphorus in the water of the El Cacao River of Tonosí that may be due to excessive levels of fertilizers. Thanks to these activities, Las Minas and Tonosi youth are inspired to continue understanding and conserving their natural resources and contribute to a better management of their watersheds.

 

 

PARTICIPANT

This initiative was adopted thanks to the combined efforts of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the Panamanian Ministry of the Environment, and the Azuero Earth Project, who are committed to an Azuero peninsula led by youth deeply connected and committed to natural resource sustainability. Stay tuned for more updates about these youth groups throughout the year!

Fig. 3. The image shows the young people of the I.P.T.A. Tonosí taking the samples in the Quebrada El Cacao

 

 

CELEBRATING THE DAY OF THE EARTH IN THE WILDLIFE REFUGE PABLO ARTURO BARRIOS

Fig. 1. Image taking by: https://noticiasmicrojuris.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/shutterstock_96211094.jpg?w=1000

Since 2012, the Azuero Earth Project has been working with the community of Pedasí to promote a better management of the Pablo Arturo Barrios Wildlife Refuge and its natural resources, mangroves, dunes, and vegetation. Besides being a very important protected area in Pedasí, the touristic and natural value of this area is even more valuable due to its role as a buffer zone for the R.V.S. Isla Iguana. A community committee from Pedasí in addition to several organizations, including the Pedasí organisation Tortugas Pedasí, MiAmbiente, ATP, Minsacapsi Pedasí, the municipality, Cima Pedasí, Pedasí Tourism Chamber, the Azuero Earth Project and the Barrios family, planned an annual event for Earth Day to commemorate the RVS Pablo Barrios. This committee submitted an application to achieve shared management of the R.V.S. Pablo Barrios. A final answer in this regards will be taken by MiAmbiente.

Fig. 2. The image shows at the time that the planting of a mangrove was finished

To highlight the importance of the refuge and to share with this important date with the community of Pedasí, Earth Day was celebrated this Saturday, April 21st of 2018 at the Arenal beach and the refuge, with the support of the aforementioned entities and Fundación Natura.

That morning began with a walk and cleaning from the center of Pedasi to the Arenal beach, where the Azuero Earth Project received the public with open arms and a variety of exciting and interesting activities. Among these activities were a relaxing kayak tour within the confines of the wildlife refuge “Pablo Arturo Barrios”, in which families and friends had the opportunity to observe the natural beauty of the mangroves and the diversity of birds that inhabit them. Additionally, an important task was carried out for the conservation of this refuge, planting more than 100 mangroves. Another important event taken place that day was the distribution of bird guide and informational triptychs from the shelter “Pablo Arturo Barrios” from a study carried out by two students from McGill University, Montreal, Canada. A photography contest was organized with anticipation to the event to highlight the beauty of the refuge and the local nature of Pedasí. The winner of this contest where also revealed during the event. Finally, to mark the end of this eventful day, a beach cleaning was organized followed by several games of beach soccer!

Fig. 3. Celebrating in Playa El Arenal with the families and friends of the national and international community of Pedasi

The Azuero Earth Project would therefore like to say: “Thank you to all those who accompanied us to celebrate Earth Day! We are proud to know that many people celebrated this great day, which symbolizes the day of our mother Earth, or in other words, our home. However, we must remember that this must be an everyday matter and state of mind, because protecting the planet means, after all protecting our own home. We have a great responsibility over it! “

Fig. 4. Enjoying a kayaking trip between the mangroves of the Pablo Arturo Barrios Wildlife Refuge

You can find more information about our work at the Azuero Earth Project by following us on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages @proecoazuero , or by browsing on our official website:

https://proecoazuero.org/

For any additional questions, we can be reached by phone with the following number: 995-2995 or via e-mail at:  info@proecoazuero.org

If you would like to support our reforestation programs you can also follow us on this page:

https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/support-riparian-reforestation-with-azuero-farmers/

A very warm THANK YOU from the Azuero Earth Project and see you soon!

 

Mangroves in innocent hands

The group ProEcoPelaos planting mangroves

This Friday, April 13, 2018, the children of Pedasí were committed to the profound task of conserving the mangroves. They are part of the Pro Eco Pelaos group of the Azuero Earth Project, and are an indispensable resource, not only for the support in the reforestation task, but also because they are our next generation because of the importance of leaving this ecological message that produces positive changes in their environmental education. “We want you to love nature as much as we love it!”

Red mangrove

Mangroves are essential ecosystems. Starting by having 2 characteristics that no other plant in the world has. They can resist the combination of saline and fresh water, as well as having the ability of retaining 25% more carbon than any other plant in the world. Mangroves function as ecosystems for diverse species, both aerial and aquatic, including the “Pargo” or Red Snapper, which give mangroves an importance at the commercial level, with these fish that are so commercialized. They are of vital significance to conserve our land, since they play a function as wave barriers (protecting us even from Tsunamis) and regulate sedimentation in the water. Additionally, they clean the water by recycling the organic matter.

So, with all of this, I would dare to say that these little guys are heroes! With the simple task of taking a few hours to plant mangroves, they are helping the fauna and flora of our community, where we also inhabit, so they even do it for us. Don´t you think that they should be our role models instead of the other way around?

 

We are interested in expanding our efforts to support these children and integrate them with us. It is a wonderful experience for both of us! If you are interested in having your children participating in this initiative or to provide some kind of additional support, such as transportation or other resources, do not hesitate to approach our offices or to contact us by writing at: cristobal@proecoazuero.org, info@proecoazuero.org ; or by calling us at: 995-2995, 6729-8542.

We also accept donations at this link: https://proecoazuero.org/donate-aep/

 

 

The young generations of las Minas and Tonosí get ready for the future of their watersheds

Youth group “Manada De Capitanes Adolescentes Para La Conservación De La Flora Y Fauna de Las Minas”

Beige attires and brawn boots is what the energetic I.P.T.A. high school students of Tonosí and Las Minas were wearing on the third and fourth of April of 2018, when the Azuero Earth Project took the initiative of visiting them.

Youth group “Unidad para la protección del medio ambiente”

We travelled to these locations in order to support these young students that are pursuing agricultural studies, to create a work team that will propel the concept of sustainability in the agricultural field in their watershed. This initiative arose from a collaboration between Panama’s Ministry of Environment (Mi Ambiente), the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (F.A.O.) and the Azuero Earth Project, with the objectives of: Consolidating groups in the Parita and Tonosí schools to bring about change with regards to the attitude towards the environment, and supporting groups of students to enhance local and communal participation in actions directed to environmental care. This will lead the young leaders to prepare themselves pedagogically in topics related to their watershed’s management, and at the same time, will empower them to be capable of raising awareness within different audiences and promote the knowledge, research and conservation of the environment.

Youth group “Unidad para la conservación del medio ambiente” Playing to choose between something beneficial and malicious for a Web page

The students from both groups started their activities with a presentation of the basic information of what they should know from the perspective of an organization, including an emotive video on the importance of raising awareness regarding the protection of the watershed and forests.

Who am I? Am I an animal? Yes! Do I have ears? Yes! Am I a thief? No! Do I have slit eyes? Yes! Oh, I know! I am a cat! That was one of the games we played as we were able to share laughters with the students to alleviate the afternoon’s tensions and the tiredness. They certainly had a great time, and we greatly enjoyed this experience.

 

Youth group “Manada de Capitanes” writting their own statute

Accompanied by the Azuero Earth Project, and through the organization’s sense of collaboration and friendship, the students had the opportunity of establishing the name for their group, as well as setting their own status, objectives, goals, visions, board of directors and, as if this was not enough, even designing their own logo! We are very enthusiastic with the idea of continuing working with them, since these are young students that will provide their legacy for their region’s nature wellbeing, and in other words, for their own and others wellbeing. The Azuero Earth Project will be visiting these two institutions on a weekly basis in 2018 to assist their formation and witness their growth towards many successful years. With this program, the Azuero Earth Project aims to expand and reinforce our activities in the region of Las Minas and Tonosí, and support the formation of groups that could enable us getting closer to our mission of conserving nature and reinforcing the agricultural activity in the Peninsula of Azuero.

Youth group “Manada De Capitanes” creating their own social red.

At the end of the afternoon, after taking some pictures of the group, which can be found at the top of our webpage, the young students parted with a great smile on their faces and a “See you soon!”

National Award for Environmental Excellence

Azuero Earth Project wins national environmental prize 2017 in the category of NGO environmental commitment

We face great challenges in environmental and social matters, that’s why it is important to cooperate and integrate all the components of Panamanian society. The Azuero Earth Project seeks to contribute to this issue through education in rural society, which is primarily the most affected by climate changes, soil erosion, and biodiversity loss.

The Panamanian Ministry of Environment (MiAmbiente) recognizes AEP’s effort and commitment through the award for environmental excellence in the NGO category given to people and organizations that perform good practices in environmental management and that have contributed to the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. To the Azuero Earth Project, his award means a lot, indicating that our methods of environmental education are becoming known and offers new possibilities for cooperation with governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The Spider Monkey Education Initiative was awarded the excellence award in the NGO commitment category. This initiative is our first front of awareness creation in the communities closest to the remaining habitat of the Azuero spider monkey, a subspecies endemic to the Azuero region, and in critical danger of extinction according to the IUCN red list. Through the initiative, which is active in the communities closest to an ecological corridor that AEP hopes to create between the remaining tropical dry forest near Achotines laboratory and the elbow of La Tronosa Forest Reserve, the children learn about topics such as the importance of the different types of forests, the trees and fruits associated with monkey presence, and the role of the community in the conservation of biodiversity and watersheds.

The school initiative has been active since 2010 and every year the relationship with the 8 participating Los Santos communities is stronger. In these towns, the Azuero Earth Project is recognized as a close collaborator of the communities, the students, and the owners of local farms interested in reforestation. The environmental situation may become worse in the following years but surely there will be more people who will join in this national commitment to care for the environment.

For more information about the national Environmental Excellence Prize 2017, please see MiAmbiente’s webpage: http://www.miambiente.gob.pa/index.php/2013-02-20-08-59-23/noticias/noticias-de-portada/1383-miambiente-reconoce-excelencias-ambientales-2017

Vicente Álexander Vasquez Velasquez