Grant Recipients Conference, Mexico 2015
The Rufford Foundation & Gustavo Cárdenas Hinojosa held the 1st Rufford Small Grants (RSG) Conference in Mexico. Since 2012 these meetings have been held in different countries with the aim to provide a forum for RSG recipients to share the results of their projects, discuss ideas, problems, issues and create invaluable networking opportunities.
In Mexico, the Rufford Foundation has supported more of 78 nature conservation projects since 2005. With its small grants has allowed getting valuable results and important experiences to young professionals, researchers or conservationists, of research and conservation efforts for nature in Mexico. The diversity of nature conservation projects granted by RSG was highlighted during the project presentations of the 23 previous grantees that attended the Conference. The venue was in Barceló Grand Faro Los Cabos Hotel, San José del Cabo, B. C. S. during February 15th to 18th 2015. The Conference theme was: Sharing Research and Conservation Efforts for Nature in Mexico. Thus the main aims of the conference were to:
• Share the results of the projects granted in Mexico by The Rufford Foundation.
• Provide a forum for grant recipients to discuss ideas, issues and create new networking opportunities;
• Raise communication between previous Rufford grantees.
A summary was done of the conference proceedings with an emphasis on describing the role or impact that The Rufford Foundation plays in supporting conservation in Mexico at local and regional level. Therefore a list of examples is presented below:
The blue whale project of Diane Gendron was able to reach disproportionately large and tangible conservation impacts to the blue whales of Loreto since she was able to establish a working network between researchers, the local NGOs, the National Marine Park of Loreto and the WW service providers. This is a key element to enhance responsible long-term WW activities and to inform local people about the importance of the blue whale and the conservation of its habitat.
Through the four grants award to Ericka Ceballos about the monitoring of the e-commerce of protected wildlife in more of 26 African countries and Latin American Countries. The findings of Ericka have been reported to the CITES workshops and with the governments and media, creating awareness of the problem, to achieve the main goal: the monitoring and the enforcement of the e-commerce by the member countries.
The results of the project of Alejandro Espinoza-Tenorio and collaborators were shared and translated to local community, fisheries authorities, and public not specialized into accessible formats trough of posters and of a regional divulgation journal.
In the project of Diane Gendron they shared all the information to local communities in the creation of a blue whale conservation group from Loreto, posters, pamphlets, and webpage. Also the information was shared in meetings and workshops on blue whale observation.
Francisco Mora shared its results to local communities during a workshop and also by doing a formal report of the project to communities through their local authorities, so that it can be further used as a technical document to sustain applications for Payment for Ecosystem Services. Furthermore, some local persons were hired for collecting data.
Ivonne Cassaigne held a meeting with local ranchers where were presented results of her project. Besides, she gave another talk at the local university where many kids of ranchers and future biologists for some of those ranches attended. To both meetings we also invited the natural protected areas commission and local livestock department.
In the project of Juan Luis Peña Mondragon was conducted the first workshops in rural communities having conflicts with jaguar and other carnivores and through presenting the results of the project he could also get their impressions as groups and to explore into the solutions to the conflict. Furthermore, he did the First Mexican tiger festival in order to work with children of local communities.
The project of Stephanie Rousso had three parts: research, education, and conservation. All on this included it its field activities students, local people and tourists.
The activities of the turtle project of Agnese Mancini and collaborators also included the creation of the San Ignacio Lagoon Sea turtle festival and brought monthly educational activities in the schools. At the same time, they are working with the local university to support local fishermen and help them create an ecotourism project to create an alternative income.
The goal of blue whale project of Diane Gendron was to study blue whale natural behaviour and the interaction with whale watching (WW), and share the results with the Federal Conservation authority and the users of this natural resource, to propose a new passive approach for WW. She reached this by doing workshops with local service providers of blue whale watching (WW) in Loreto in order to share the information gathered in the project and they were able to increase consciousness in relation to the blue whale responsible WW activities.
Francisco Mora and collaborators did an assessment of future management and alternative management strategies for the tropical dry forests of the Chamela-Cuixmala region, Mexican Pacific. This was shared to the landowners of this region.
The activities of the projects of Agnese Mancini had included a series of educational activities involving the local primary schools on natural resources that can be found at the lagoon. Besides, she joined forces with a local NGO to create a turtle monitoring group composed by fishermen from the lagoon. Since the creation of the group, more than 100 turtles have been tagged and released in the southern part of the lagoon. All this information is key for the turtle management in San Ignacio Lagoon.
The results of the project of Alejandro Espinoza-Tenorio and collaborators helped to two persons to get a Master and PhD Degree. The project of Antonio de la Torre named Research for the conservation of the jaguar in the Selva Lacandona, Chiapas, Mexico was the fundamental for his Master dissertation.
Also, the project of Ivonne Cassaigne was fundamental to achieve the goals of collecting data for her PhD project. Some of the data collected in the two RSG projects of Juan Luis Peña Mondragon are fundamental to generate human resources since at least six students are analysing data of the project to end its bachelor or Master thesis. The project of Fredy Alvarado work will continue as part of his PhD research.
The first RSG granted to Agnese Mancini was a pilot study for a PhD thesis to standardize the data collection method, where the interview process and to find the best way to analyse results.
Fredy Alvarado Roberto was able to study the biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services and land use management in livestock dominated landscapes trough research on dung beetles of the Yucatan Peninsula. Also, Victoria Capello used the dung beetles to compare its diversity in intact forests landscapes of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve to know the implications for conservation in adjacent human modified landscapes. Aly Valderrama and collaborators did the first study of the diversity and genetic structure of an endemic species tree Tilia mexicana. The findings of her project will be crucial for designing management and conservation practices for the endangered species.
Juan Luis Peña Mondragon did the first assessment of damage caused by jaguars and other large carnivores on domestic cattle in the southern state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Furthermore, also identified the main locations where the conflict between the jaguar and rural people is stronger. The research of Luis Malpica Cruz will be the first one to quantify the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of an invasive predator (lionfish) to artisanal fishing and recreational diving in Veracruz, Mexico.
The study of Luz Adriana Perez Solano will be the first to be conducted in the Mapimi Biosphere Reserve using the direct method of radiotelemetry to evaluate the spatial and behavioural ecology of the mule deer in the Chihuahua Desert, Mexico.
The research of Miriam San José y Alcalde will be the first to assess the independent impacts that different landscapes attributes (forest cover, forest fragmentation, edge density, etc.) may have on ecological processes as seed dispersal, seed predation and seedling recruitment for the rainforest regeneration, which are disturbed by the increasingly threatened by deforestation, forest fragmentation and defaunation. She we will work in two regions that represent biodiversity hot-spots and are considered of main conservation concern by the Mexican government: Los Tuxtlas and Lacandona rainforest
Ivonne Cassaigne established a link with the owner of a ranch and the director of the local University (University of Moctezuma) to enrol students in more Jaguars conservation projects at his ranch. In the activities of the project of Rafael Reyna Hurtado was included the training of three local people of Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in techniques to study wildlife populations.
Alejandro Espinoza-Tenorio and collaborators did a proposal for the spatial planning of two traditional fisheries in competition; Huaves y Zapotecas. The project findings of Alejandro have been published in four papers in international peer-reviewed journals, two papers in national peer-reviewed journals, two book chapters, and three research notes.
Claudia Monzón Alvarado published a paper entitled “Fire management and climate variability: challenges in designing environmental regulations” in the Journal of Land Use Policy. Ericka Ceballos
Juan Luis Peña also published the results of his project in a peer-reviewed journal and the results have been presented at various national and international conferences specialized in environmental issues.
The project findings of Rafael Reyna Hurtado were published in at least two papers in international peer-reviewed journals. Stephanie Rousso and collaborators presented its results in two international conferences and published in a chapter book the findings of projects granted to Agnese Mancini were published in four international peer-reviewed journals.
The information obtained in the project of Antonio de la Torre was given to the authorities of the Mexican Federal Government, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP).
The results of the blue project of Diane Gendron was included in the Action Program for the Conservation of the blue whale of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP).
Claudia Monzón Alvarado shared its project results with local authorities and government agents to initiate a dialogue for the design of more adequate and flexible policies in order to adapt the law for burning in Calakmul, Mexico. Ericka Ceballos
The results of the project of Francisco Mora also were reported to environmental authorities of the Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve Administration (CONANP). Juan Luis Peña Mondragon did the first workshops in rural communities and brought together State and Federal authorities and non-governmental organisations of the state of Nuevo Leon with the aim of updating them on the conflict between jaguar and other carnivores and people’s domestic livestock. María Camila Latorre Cárdenas shared her results about the effect of persistent organochlorine Compounds on the Neotropical otter in Veracruz, Mexico with the National Water Commission (CONAGUA). The results of Veronica Solis about bison were included in the Conservation Action Plan (PACE) of CONANP. The information derived from the research of Rodrigo Sierra Corona was included in the management plan for the Janos Biosphere Reserve.
After the end of oral presentations, it was asked to the grantees to join in four discussion groups. The discussions and consensus were focus, based on experience gathered in RSG projects, in the actions applied to be successful in the conservation of species or ecosystems, the issues or difficulties presented in the process of, and the potential creation of a network of RSG grantees of Mexico.
• Workshops with local people and government in order to include them in the conservation actions of the project
• Publication of scientific papers
• Divulgation of results to local communities through posters, books, communitarian radio, brochures, etc. focused mainly in children (future generations)
• Involvement of local people in the research or divulgation activities to change its perspective about wildlife. E.g. from hunter to field assistant for conservation projects.
• Organization of events in communities for the divulgation of information of the project and participation of local people on this events.
• E.g. festivals, courses, etc.
• Creation of national or international committees with government institutes, local people, academy, NGO´s in order to discuss issues and propose integral solutions.
• Time for covering all the goals of the projects and areas as social, scientific and management.
• Lack of training for skills as socials, artistic, etc., to translate the results to local communities for best understanding and impact.
• Apathy of environmental authorities of all levels.
• Issues for collecting fauna.
• Lack of concordance between government institutions and knowledge in the tasks de each one.
• Lack of a transversal agenda of between government institutions for conservation
• Lack of environmental education in the people with permanent activity.
• Lack of an effective surveillance for the wildlife protection by the government authorities.
• Funding for long-term research projects.
• Insecurity in zone of conflict
• Overlap of interests
It was agreed to create a private group in Facebook in order to keep updating about results of the projects, consultancy about paperwork of scientific permits and other issues, and potential collaboration between RSG grantees. The Facebook group was created during the Conference. The name is “RSG México”.
Recommendations for projects to get major impact on conservation:
• Having a multidisciplinary group
• Encourage to children the promotion of conservation.
• Use of social networking for divulgation of results of the projects.
• Learning of experience of local people
• Divulgation with products of high quality.
• Use of the media for communicate the conservation problematic
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