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Education and conservation meet in “Living Spaces”

On the 12th and 13th of July, Frankfurt Zoological Society set up a team to pitch in on the implementation of a pilot project under the name of “Living spaces” in the educational institution in the peasant community of Solán, in the district of Challabamba (Cusco).

Students in the andean zone of the Manu Biosphere Reserve
The Living Space is a resource that combines education and conservation in a school environment.

Cusco, july 21 2017.  The Living spaces project is a proposed pedagogical resource to be used in rural and urban schools that aims to promote environmental responsibility. This concept recently coined by the Ministry of Education represents a step forward in children’s education in this country, as it transversally applies environmental issues. The methodology is entirely participatory with an integral perspective and a hands-on approach, as students and teachers create and maintain these spaces.

FZS is supporting this initiative through its environmental education program. The FZS environmental education program targets the main schools located around the protected areas in which it operates. In this particular case, the community of Solán belongs to the buffer zone of Manu National Park, which in turn belongs to the Manu Biosphere Reserve.

Over the lasts months and with the support of the FZS and an enthusiastic group of university volunteers, the High-Andean community of Solán started to implement its Living Space, a farm close to the primary school. Vegetables such as onions, lettuces and radishes; medicinal plants such as spearmint and others; native fruits like elder berries and cape gooseberries; and finally native ornamental plants such as k’antu and geraniums have all been planted. This will allow the school kitchen to be adequately self-sufficient.

Moreover, a composter is being built to supply the field with compost, and containers were installed for waste segregation. This way, and following the objectives of the environmental education program of the FZS, the children will learn to select and recycle waste in handicraft workshops. Implementing this spaces involves theoretical and practical learning on the students, with the support of parents and teachers. 

Kids decorating their little school farm
A mural representing local fauna in harmony with young environmental apprentices was also painted.

This is how the FZS profiles education and conservation. A goal to be achieved is to restore and strengthen the environmental vision of these students living in community with endangered species and protected natural areas. Living spaces in remote communities, such as Solán in this case, – and soon the neighboring Lucuybamba – are a practical tool to achieve this goal.

The coexistence of man with his natural surrounding is reinforced day by day in this school in Solán. A Living Space intents to enrich the knowledge of children with respect to climate change. As the school principal and teacher Ms. Julia Ojeda Mamani puts it: “if we do not have forests, flash floods will come, and if we keep burning them, winds will become stronger every time”.

Julia Ojeda points out that the Living Space in her school “will help instill in them the conservation of a natural space, and urge them to maintain, care for and use it in a positive manner”. She also shares the children’s´ excitement when planting new seeds, watering the land, decorating the place and soon also harvesting the very same fruits they sowed.

The implementation of the Living Space as a pilot model in Solán was done thanks to the ProBosque Manu Project, which is in turn promoted by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).