Community-Based Conservation

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Neighborhood Greening Program
in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

This project is a collaboration with Prof. Bladimir Terán, Environmental Specialist, Santa Cruz School System.  It began in 2005 as a pilot project working with one school in the “Plan 3000” neighborhood in Santa Cruz and has grown since then to include 908 primary schoolchildren, 1,022 secondary school children, 320 parents, and 101 teachers from nine schools in the neighborhood.

The Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development (CCSD) is collaborating with schools in the neighborhood of San Agustín in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in a program of neighborhood greening — part of a new environmental education curriculum developed by CCSD and incorporated into the teaching of the natural sciences.  After conducting a survey, the students and teachers concluded that they would need 380 small trees to “green” the school grounds, the area immediately around each school, and the streets in the surrounding neighborhood.  The students and their parents then worked together to transport saplings donated by the botanical garden in Santa Cruz, build protective frames for them, and plant and care for them during the early stages of growth.  The program also developed and published Exploradores del Barrio, a guide to teaching environmental education in the schools and environmental stewardship of school neighborhoods.

The neighborhood greening program also conducts a “green schools” initiative with three components: a neighborhood clean-up program; a recycling program, including recycling of solid waste (glass, plastics, and paper) and of plastic bottles for later use in building houses; and a school gardens program (huertos escolares), in which students in different grade levels learn how to cultivate vegetables that they can take home for family consumption.

The school gardens program emphasizes practical, hands-on learning and teaches the students that they can grow vegetables successfully in a small space, improve their nutrition without applying harmful chemical treatments to the garden, and use their gardening skills as a means of earning income.  Learning about organic gardening is especially important in Bolivia, where most of the vegetables available for consumption are treated with insecticides and fungicides.  A trainer from the project staff teaches the students and teachers how to work the ground, how to select vegetables appropriate to the soil and other growing conditions, and how to develop a watering regime.  The students work in the school garden after school or on weekends.  The program also encourages them to apply what they have learned at home by teaching their parents and building home vegetable gardens.  The project will provide the seed for these home gardens.

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Director, CCSD, Missouri Botanical Garden, P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166 Phone: (314) 577-0871 © 2014