Get On the Map!

Conservation Community launch event_Nov 12On Tuesday 27th November I attended my first event as part of the Healthy Planet team at the launch of the Conservation Community and the Get on the Map initiative, which attracted a full crowd of enthusiastic attendees to Google Campus London.

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Shaylesh Patel – click on image to enlarge

The Talks
The evening kicked off with an inspiring talk from Shaylesh Patel founder of Healthy Planet, with the hard-hitting line “for the first time since records began, our kids are on track to lead a shorter life than their parents’’ – what a way to engage an audience! Shaylesh passionately spoke about the greener and healthier choices that we, as individuals, can make to help create a better planet for future generations, and the wide variety of projects that Healthy Planet has initiated. Being a new intern at the organisation the success of the projects astounded me as much as the audience! The Books for Free initiative for example, has so far saved over 2 million books from being pulped or sent to landfill – that is a whole lot of books!

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Dr Mark Mulligan – click on image to enlarge

Next up on stage was Dr Mark Mulligan – lecturer at King’s College London and chair of the conservation advisory board for the Healthy Planet Foundation. Mark – clearly an avid conservationist – explained the core concepts behind the development of the Conservation Community which aims to combine knowledge, technology and people to actively get involved in conservation through the use of mapping and social networking. The online experience allows the user to choose projects to get involved in, create an online profile, interact with members and spread the word of conservation to the wider community. Amusingly the social media fanatics in the room all looked extremely excited at the prospect of creating a new online profile and being awarded with badges for frantically tweeting!

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Ed Parsons – click on image to enlarge

The final speaker of the evening was Ed Parsons – Google’s Geospatial Technologist – who ended the talks with a surge of optimism. He outlined the major impacts that technological advances have already had on increasing global communication and social interaction, and the positive knock on effects to global conservation. Ed continued to say that as technology continues to spread, we as individuals can build relationships with conservation projects that we care about, we can tackle local and global issues, and we can make a real impact on the natural world.

The Activities
AL0A4192The clearly inspired audience were then given the opportunity to make their own individual conservation hopes and dreams heard. To start, everyone was assigned to a team which reflected a current Conservation Community project – I was team Tiger to reflect the Phoenix Fund mission to conserve the Amur Tigers in the Russia Far East.

After learning about the different approaches Healthy Planet are undertaking to increase the conservation of each species, everyone was asked to think of their own conservation wish and attach the wish to the Healthy Planet Map – note the name of the initiative Get on the Map! Reading some of these wishes was definitely the highlight of my evening, seeing everyone talk about their favourite animals and what they would like to see done to help conserve our world for centuries to come was inspiring! All these wishes are online on flickr for everyone to view.

Conservation wishes

My personal favourite wish has to be “that future generations will be able to enjoy immense biodiversity both overseas and in the UK”.

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The Chat
The final part of the evening ‘networking’ was the part I was most dreading! Typically, when I’m nervous I stumble over my words and end up hiding in a corner, so the idea of approaching a complete stranger and plucking an intellectual conversation from thin air was terrifying! Fortunately for me however, whilst debating whether I was safer hiding in the ladies or under the stage, I was approached by a lovely young gentleman who too admitted to contemplating running to the foyer and texting his entire address book as a tempting solution to his nerves. Surprisingly I was much more at ease after this conversation – safety in numbers and all. Soon the buzz of the evening filled the air, the conversation (and wine) was easily flowing, ideas were bounding, and the growing interest in the Conservation Community was obvious.

Animal themed photo booth

Animal themed photo booth

The Food
The final triumph of the evening was the excellently chosen vegan canapé selection which was provided by Vegan Peasant Catering. The food was delicious, and that is coming from someone who usually shrivels away from a humus pot and anything resembling a vegetable. I can proudly say I tried Tahini Ganoush and Sage Crisp & Candied Lemon Zest on Crostini. In addition for anyone reading this who wants to spark a conversation with a group of powerful looking women –  go armed with a tray of Pink Sea Salted Brownies, women are like putty in your hands. See all the photos from the event on Healthy Planet Flickr.

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Find out more at on the Conservation Community Website our storify from the night or Follow Us on Twitter or Facebook!

You can watch the talks on You Tube Conservation Community launch by Healthy Planet at Google Campus

We are currently editing a short film by potentialproductions.org which will include excerpts from the event and mini interviews with the guests, watch this space.

Blog post written by Rhiannon Downer: Marketing & Communications intern at Healthy Planet

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Kitting out the Fundación ProAves forest guardians

Lecture on boundary monitoring given within Las Tangaras Nature reserve

Lecture on boundary monitoring given within Las Tangaras Nature reserve

Our Conservation Coordinator and leader of the Adopt-a-Plot initiative, Olivia Couchman, has given us an update on one of the ongoing conservation projects we support.

For the past 8 months, Healthy Planet has been supporting conservation work within four nature reserves in Colombia, in partnership with the local conservation organisation, ProAves. The reserves include two lush lowland tropical rainforests of the Magdalena valley (El Paujil and Pauxi Pauxi Nature reserves) and two Pacific coastal forests of the Chocó region (El Pangan and Las Tangaras Nature reserves).

Why is it important

As global demand for commodities like gold and coffee increases, the reserves are increasingly under threat of expanding agriculture, mining, logging, hunting, and other methods of exploiting their natural resources.

Project aim

The project aims to protect 46,000 acres of tropical rainforest within two critical hotspots for endemic species (that is, those that are only found within Colombia) and threatened biodiversity. This will be done through the training and deployment of forest guard teams within each reserve to increase the protection of the reserves. The guards will also monitor endangered flagship species, assist reforestation of recently acquired pasturelands to establish vital wildlife corridors between forest blocks, and interact and liaise with local communities to secure local goodwill and support.

Our contribution

Healthy Planet is proud to have supported the training and deployment of half the forest guardians needed, via funding raised through Adopt-a-Plot.

Forest Guardians (L-R) Hugo Fuentes, Guia Eduard Guarin, Jose Rojas, Uber Garcia sporting Healthy Planet shirts

Forest Guardians (L-R) Hugo Fuentes, Guia Eduard Guarin, Jose Rojas, Uber Garcia sporting Healthy Planet shirts

How we have helped
The Guards have been trained in a range of disciplines, including:

  • GPS and boundary monitoring
  • computer skills
  • bird identification from sight and song
  • wildlife monitoring, camera trapping
  • first aid
  • snake bite management

Each guardian equipped with:

  • full uniforms
  • GPS data loggers
  • digital camera
  • binoculars

Right and below are some images of the new guards showing off their new skills and equipment.

To find out more about helping us and our project partners complete the training of these vital guards:
http://healthyplanet.org/adopt/adopt-a-plot/park.aspx?id=26

To learn more about ProAves:
http://www.proaves.org/proaves/index.php?lang=en

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Guards create clearly marked boundaries around the reserve

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Learning to identify the local birdlife to monitor the species diversity 

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ProAves team members train the rangers in basic computer skills to help with their work

If you would like to nominate a project/park for our adopt a plot fundraising programme please get in touch.

conservation@healthyplanet.org