Women for Conservation recently partnered with Fundación ProAves to renovate and revitalize the Ecocenter of the richly biodiverse Reserva Natural de Las Aves El Pangán, located near Junín in the Nariño department of Colombia. Nestled amidst 9,800 acres of protected rainforest, the Ecocenter served as the central hub of conservation education and training in the region, benefitting local women and children for several years following its purchase in 2004. Unfortunately, after early success, the facility had fallen into disrepair due to economic hardship and inadequate resources. Now, after the help of Women for Conservation, the Ecocenter will be able to fulfill its full potential as a community-gathering place for local community members to enjoy, learn about, and contribute to the conservation of the unique biodiversity of the region.
To achieve its goal of benefitting the surrounding community, the Ecocenter will provide not only a community-gathering space, but also classes in basic computer skills, access to family planning information, and a display of eco-friendly goods crafted by local women. Soon ecology classes, screenings of environmental films, bird identification walks, bird house and nesting box building, and native species gardening will further enhance the impact of the Ecocenter. Community members who visit the Ecocenter may learn to identify the Vulnerable Long-wattled Umbrellabird for which the reserve is named, hear the calls of the endemic and Endangered Banded Ground-cuckoo or Baudo Guan, and may even spot the Near Threatened Chocó Vireo, first discovered in this area. Cultivating an appreciation of these and the many other species of reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and insects found in El Pangán Reserve is vital to the conservation of these species and their ecosystems.
Conserving threatened and endangered species and protecting the unique biodiversity of El Pangán Reserve will strengthen a tradition of conservation education and environmental stewardship while improving the quality of life for neighboring communities. “Here, indigenous peoples like the Awá Camawari, members of the Raizal, Tajadas, and Cuchirrabo communities, and adults and children alike can come together in fostering an appreciation and understanding of species conservation while learning new skills and creating shared experience,” said Women for Conservation Founder and Executive Director, Sara Inés Lara. These experiences and knowledge can improve the lives and well-being of community members now and can also be passed down to benefit future generations. Now, and for many years to come, the Ecocenter may continue to be a precious community resource, serving as a powerful force for conservation, a community-centered gathering place for education, and a catalyst for local economic development.