Community-Based Model for the Conservation of Sea Turtles: Training Local Youth at the Galera-San Francisco Marine Reserve, Ecuadorian Coastal Chocó

Andrea Isabel Sosa Alcívar

This project aims to improve sea turtles’ conservation actions at nesting beaches of Galera San Francisco Marine Reserve (Ecuador), presently under non-trivial threats. With this project, children of fishermen from local communities -age 13 to 20 years- will receive a training course to form a group of young local conservation leaders who will acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to get involved in sea turtle conservation actions, such as monitoring nesting beaches, protecting nests or collecting and classifying plastics.

Through the implementation of this theoretical-practical course on sea turtle conservation, local people will be trained on these species biology and the threats they face. Ground tours will be carried out on nesting index beaches of Quingue and Galerita to identify footprints, register and protect nests, as well as to collect plastic waste for subsequent classification and reuse/recycling.

An important part of this course will focus on the impact caused by the poor management of waste in the communities of the Marine Reserve and how the increase of plastic litter on nesting beaches poses a serious threat to sea turtles. During the tours, all plastics found will be collected to be reused or recycled later. Actions to reduce the presence of plastic on nesting beaches will be taken. Therefore, it will contribute to improve local communities’ awareness of the problem of waste

Once the course is finished, a final theoretical test will be carried out to measure the level of acquired knowledge, as well as a practical test on monitoring nesting beaches for the identification, protection and monitoring of nests. Those who successfully pass the tests will become members of a local guardian group that will be formed for the conservation of sea turtles.

It is expected that conservation actions for sea turtles nesting at the RMGSF beaches will improve, therefore we expect to see the positive impact on these species’ populations.

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