Renovating EcoCenter Revitalizes Community Learning and Conservation in the Chocó

Renovating EcoCenter Revitalizes Community Learning and Conservation in the Chocó

In partnership with Fundación ProAves, Women for Conservation led the renovation and revitalization of the El Pangán Reserve EcoCenter during the summer of 2020. An important environmental education and conservation hub since its initial purchase in 2004, the EcoCenter had fallen into disrepair in recent years due to lack of funding and resources. Since Women for Conservation stepped in to help, the EcoCenter has once again been able to enrich the lives of Junín residents and indigenous peoples like the Awá Camawari and members of the Raizal, Tajadas, and Cuchirrabo communities while promoting conservation and education efforts.

Its location in Junín near the richly biodiverse El Pangán Reserve poised the EcoCenter to play a vital role in the conservation of endemic and endangered species. Within the 9,800 acres of protected rainforest, community members may take birding classes where they can learn to identify and appreciate rare birds like the Near Threatened Chocó Vireo, which was first discovered in this area, and other species like the Baudo Guan and Endangered Banded Ground-cuckoo (right, photo by Markus Craig).

In addition to bird identification classes, the EcoCenter will also offer classes in ecology and basic computer skills, opportunities to participate in native species gardening and nesting box building, and will screen environmental films. Perhaps most importantly, however, the EcoCenter will continue to serve as an important community gathering place that benefits women and children. 

This project exemplifies Women for Conservation’s mission to empower women to protect endangered species and threatened habitat by directly improving their wellbeing and capacity to become environmental stewards. Educational classes, onsite access to family planning information, and proceeds from the sale of eco-friendly goods crafted by local women will improve the economic stability of families and reduce the burden on the surrounding natural resources and rainforest ecosystem. Learning new skills and participating in shared experiences in nature will cultivate an appreciation of this unique environment and encourage a tradition of conservation in the community that will benefit future generations. With the revitalization of the EcoCenter, Women for Conservation secured a place for conservation education in the surrounding community that will fortify conservation work and improve lives for years to come. 

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