Design and Analysis of Conservation Projects in Latin America: an Integrative Approach to Training
Carlos Galindo-Leal, Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, Conservation International
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The Latin American countries have a disproportionate importance in global biodiversity conservation. Six of the 14 megadiversity countries that house 60–70% of the species in the world are located on this region. Unfortunately, the number of environmental professionals in Latin America is extremely small. Furthermore, most of them have no postgraduate degrees and are unacquainted with general research methodology and recently developed concepts and tools. In addition, many speak no English and have no way to communicate with colleagues in other parts of the world. In collaboration with Latin American colleagues, universities, government agencies, and nongovernment organizations, I have been developing an integrated field course titled "Design and Analyses of Projects to Manage Biological Diversity" to address these problems. To date, we have conducted nine courses in seven countries. The courses consist of five complementary components that are addressed sequentially: (1) conceptual framework, (2) critical analysis of personal projects, (3) methodological tools, (4) analytical tools, and (5) integration. I also discuss the elements that contribute to the success of these courses. Powerful elements in the course are the presentation, critical analysis, and constructive discussion of participants' real conservation projects. In addition, the careful matching of participants with instructors, subject matter, and learning environment has resulted in a great learning experience for everyone involved. Because of the lack of graduate training in conservation-related disciplines and the more general pitfalls associated with teaching science, there is a great demand in Latin America for integrated field courses.
biodiversity conservation, capacity building, conservation projects, field courses, Latin America, project analysis, project design.