Today at WILD9 / Hoy en WILD9
Hoy en WILD9
WILD9 is a success! Over the 8 days of WILD9, we gathered together to THINK, FEEL and ACT.
WILD9 was opened by President Felipe Calderon, and attended by 1800 delegates from 50 countries, with 10,000 on-line participants from 100 countries. WILD9 conveyed an extraordinary atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm, hosted a diverse range of working session and featured a plenary program with world leaders such as Dr. Jane Goodall; Dr. Sylvia Earle; Dr Pavan Sukhdev; Chief Tashka Yawanawa; Grand Chief Samuel Gargan; numerous Ministers; the heads of land management agencies from North America and other regions; Heinz Center Director Dr. Thomas Lovejoy; Nobel laureate Mario Molina; Dr. Amory Lovins; Dr Exequiel Ezcurra; and many others.
Visit www.wild.org for more information
¡El WILD9 ha sido un éxito! Durante los ocho días del WILD9, nos reunimos para Pensar, Sentir y Actuar. Entre los muchos resultados del WILD9 están
- El Mensaje desde Mérida, una llamada internacional a la acción mediante pautas normativas específicas a fin de integrar las tierras silvestres y la conservación de la biodiversidad en una estrategia de cambio del cambio climático;
- El primer acuerdo internacional sobre conservación de tierras silvestres, elaborado y firmado conjuntamente por los gobiernos de México, Canadá y Estados Unidos;
- El grupo de fotógrafos de conservación más numeroso que se haya reunido jamás y la presentación de su trabajo;
- La creación de nuevas áreas naturales protegidas en México y otros países, la intención de crear las primeras áreas silvestres marinas de Estados Unidos y el compromiso de aumentar significativamente la cobertura de las áreas naturales protegidas de la Península de Yucatán;
- El uso extenso de las nuevas herramientas de comunicación por Internet para llegar a un grupo cada vez más grande y diverso de participantes internacionales, más allá de los delegados del WILD9; y
- La participación de líderes jóvenes en la solución de problemas cruciales relacionados con tierras silvestres, diversidad biológica y cambio climático.
Se publican las resoluciones del WILD9 > ¡Visítenos con frecuencia para acceder a más información, noticias y anuncios del WILD9!
News! - Noticas! - Nouvelles!
Mali Elephant Project update
Sometimes in conservation we have been reticent to ask local people what they think and feel about wildlife in case they are less than enthusiastic! In reality what they usually don’t want is to have their livelihoods diminished and their options reduced, particularly when the wildlife is perceived to benefit the affluent.
Why do the local people protect the elephants? This was the first question registered after my recent TEDx talk telling the story of how a few people can make a big difference, and it is a vital question. Nature and wildlife have multiple values, some of which can have a monetary figure attached to them (if they are readily marketable goods such as food and construction materials), and some of which can’t. In trying to determine the value of nature we often concentrate on just one or a few of these, and in the process miss the combined value. Although I am used to describing why the people conserve the elephants in particular contexts, I had never before drawn all the reasons together in one place.
In return for protecting the elephant migration route and its habitats, the project helps the community to overcome their problems and challenges. These might vary in detail from place to place according to local circumstances and have included access to clean water, procuring grain, youth employment, and conflict management; but all involve preventing and reversing ecosystem degradation. Bringing diverse clans and ethnicities together to protect water, pasture, forests, wildlife and wild foods and using these resources sustainably means that more are available over a greater area, as for example in protecting pasture against fire. Most importantly, it also gives them control over the land and its resources, empowering them to prevent others (particularly commercial interests from towns hundreds of kilometres away) from over-exploitation and causing environmental degradation. They can also prevent incomers from clearing forest for cultivation, and thereby protect a source of wild foods, fuel, game, and services such as water retention and soil stabilisation as well as key elephant habitat. They can receive revenue from charging by the head for livestock belonging to the large ‘prestige’ herds coming from distant towns to access water. These belong to wealthy urban dwellers who send them into remoter areas to find pasture as none remains close to densely populated centres. We discovered that over 96% of the cattle using Lake Banzena in 2009 belonged to such herds.
These activities provide an occupation for the young men that has status within the community, an idea that might be replicated wherever there is environmental degradation.
Do they need elephants to do this? Maybe not, but the local people know that elephants attract the attention of the wider community – national and international – and are proud of that. As they say, “if the elephants disappear, our area will no longer be special”. They view elephants as an indicator of a healthy ecosystem and they know that their livelihoods depend on a healthy ecosystem. They also know from direct experience that elephants are important as seed dispersers and in forest regeneration. Elephants knock down otherwise inaccessible fruits and seeds from high branches that are gathered by the women for food and sometimes sale. Fruits and leaves are also eaten by livestock. Dung is valued to help conjunctivitis, a widespread problem in these environments.
They are in awe of witnessing elephants’ social interactions and expression of a range of emotions, their joy when groups reunite, their apparent care for each other and particularly for their young. They have reported seeing elephants covering their dead with soil and branches and standing vigil for several days. They tell of elephants constructing a causeway of wood and branches to help rescue another elephant stuck in mud.
They also feel that every species has a right to exist and that it contributes something to the ecosystem that is unique to it, a notion that was described to me as being encapsulated in the word baraka or blessing. Each species has its own baraka, and if a species is lost, the ecosystem is irretrievably diminished, and poorer in its ability to sustain life.
Once peace is restored there is the additional possibility of revenue from tourism, as pre-conflict they have witnessed tourists paying to be guided to see the elephants.
Some of these reasons may seem fragile when considered on their own, but together these ‘elephant plus points’ combine to produce an overall benefit that is greater than the sum of the parts. While we can attempt to place a monetary value on some aspects of this benefit, it is impossible to do so with all aspects and particularly with the “emergent “ value, something that needs to be acknowledged in attempts to analyse the economics of the ivory trade as well as conservation and development interventions in elephant areas.> Read More
WILD’s family is full of wonderful and talented people, including many fun, fabulous and highly-skilled women. Just a few of our “WILD Women” were invited to speak at TEDxVailWomen on the theme “Invented Here.” Not just technology inventions, but also new solutions to poverty; new approaches to leadership; new expressions of art and music; and, at times, the invention of our own lives. This inspirational day-long event was hosted by WILD Foundation board member, Kat Haber, and included Dr. Susan Canney, Morgan Heim, Asher Jay and Cristina Mittermeier. Take some time to watch each of their talks – whether it be working with a local community to save a unique herd of elephants, going on a foolish adventure to research the elusive fishing cat, using art to bring awareness to conservation issues, or shining a light on indigenous people & conservation with photography- each of these women are creatively working to make a difference in the conservation field.
Dr. Susan Canney
Project Leader of the Mali Elephant Project
The elephants in Mali are unique. They live in one of the harshest environments in the world, the arid Sahel and have one of the longest migrations routes of any elephants. They are the most northerly elephant herd in Africa – the last comparable herd went extinct in the 1980s. WILD has embarked on a large-scale action and outreach program to work with local communities, government officials, tourism companies and others to help the Mali elephants, and in turn, help the people of Mali.
Susan Canney tells the story of the Mali Elephant Project to demonstrate how shifting your perspective opens up new possibilities for transforming an impossible situation. By being willing to Not Know and let go of assumptions, at the same time as doing everything to understand and respect all aspects of the situation, a better way opens up.
Multimedia Journalist & WILD Foundation Trustee
Conservation photographer Morgan Heim is on a mission to connect our lives with the stories of the natural world. We save the things we care about. But how do you connect with an endangered animal that lives half a world away? In an adventure to find the elusive fishing cat, two American girls undergo a transformation that can change how we connect with the causes around us.
“Being foolish gave us the courage to keep going, even when all the logic dictated that we should stop…The foolish choice might just be the best choice you can make.”
Conservation Artist & Activist, WILD Foundation Associate
By Design, Asher is a creative conservationist. She believes that our inability to perceive what has been lost to us prevents us from valuing and conserving what remains. Through both visuals and a personal narrative Asher casts a light on what she’s learned from love and loss.
A staunch supporter of animal rights, wildlife conservation and sustainable development, Asher found herself using her fashion, art and writing to raise awareness. Over the years she has produced several graphic campaigns, written many narratives, and pieced together numerous collections and canvases to eloquently elucidate the serious issues currently assailing our fragile planet.
Conservation Photographer, Founder of the iLCP & WILD Foundation Board Member
A conservationist with a camera and a passionate opinion, Cristina Mittermeier has dedicated her career to convince others of the imperative to protect our planet. In 2008, she founded the International League of Conservation Photographers at the 8th World Wilderness Congress in Anchorage, Alaska.
Enoughness, how much is enough? Cristina Mittermeier shows her stunning images of indigenous peoples to shine lights on conservation issues and places where healthy ecosystems remain. In her talk, Cristina tells us that contentment is long lasting and comes from inside- she defines it as an internal yard stick. Humor is a great way of building enoughness. Her images remind us “that when all the rivers have been dammed, and all the forests have been turned into chopsticks, and when the last wild creature has been hunted for their trophy, we will all be a lot poorer.”> Read More
The survival of the Mali elephants is intimately linked to the state of relations between the peoples of the Gourma region. The Mali Elephant Project empowers local communities to work together to protect elephants and their habitat from human encroachment, and the wider environment from degradation. Degradation of soils, water, vegetation and wildlife means that there is less to go round and increases the likelihood of conflict between elephants and humans. When communities work together to protect and restore the ecosystem they are protecting the resources on which their livelihoods depend, and the habitats the elephants require for their survival, as the project has repeatedly demonstrated.
At the same time, working with local groups to protect their environment promotes community cohesion, provides employment for the youth, targets post-conflict aid and reconstruction activities, and is, therefore, an important vehicle for reconciliation.
Post-conflict there is the new challenge of healing the social wounds that have been opened up by the recent crisis. The question is, “How best to do this?”
Two reports have recently been published giving a fascinating insight the current situation. The first was published by Oxfam and describes how the conflict has undermined social relations within and between the ethnicities of northern Mali through feelings of fear and mistrust (Gao and Timbuktu).
The second is our own study which is complementary in that it examines a smaller geographic area – the Gourma region – but in more detail, and rather than focusing on ethnicities, teases out the different strategies employed by individuals to survive the crisis. > Report of the National Reconciliation Workshop
Like the first study, it concludes that reconciliation at the community level is a pre-requisite for all post-conflict aid and reconstruction activities, or there is the risk of exacerbating the situation; however if the motivations of different groups are not understood and taken into account, emergency aid and reconstruction activities risk doing more harm than good. During the conflict, many stayed. Of those who left there were those who fled for fear of being targeted by the armed groups because of the colour of their skin or their association with government or westerners, while others fled because they hoped to gain financially from their refugee status. Others, already wealthy, hoped to increase their wealth and power during the post-conflict reconstruction. Some joined the jihadis because they were paid large amounts of money and given a weapon. The latter allowed some to pillage, hijack vehicles, steal, and engage in illegal trafficking, while others were employed by the armed groups as cooks and drivers and participated in or became associated with abusive acts. Finally there were those imams (Muslim priests) who allied themselves with the jihadis and, together with pupils at some koranic schools, were responsible for imposing Sharia law on their own populations.
The good news is that the rift between communities is not irreparable. The wounds can be healed and there is a willingness displayed by the vast majority of people interviewed to begin a process of dialogue and reconciliation (Oxfam, 2013).
To begin this process we worked with the Ministry for Decentralisation and Land Management and the Ministry of the Environment and Sanitation to design and implement a three-day workshop for the top levels of national and regional Malian government, together with representatives of local communities, and from the national Reconciliation Commission to address the central question:
How can essential and urgent humanitarian assistance be quickly deployed to alleviate the present suffering, without further aggravating the social and environmental imbalances that are already posing a threat to a sustainable and peaceful future?
The aim was to enable the participants to share the information available and obtain an insight to the situation on the ground that would enable them to identify how piecemeal interventions could support and mutually reinforce each other. The result was a road-map of concrete actions required in the short, medium and long term.
In summary, the workshop recommended that:
- Reconciliation, within and between communities, is a prerequisite for ensuring the social, economic and environmental sustainability of aid and reconstruction initiatives.
- Reconstructing local communities will help to improve local, national and international security by minimising the risk of repercussions beyond Mali’s borders. Young men who are unable to return to their communities and who have nowhere else to go risk becoming radicalised and/or engaging in criminal activity.
- Local authorities must play an integral role in post-conflict reconciliation, aid and reconstruction, to ensure that these efforts are well targeted and to obtain the desired results. Their knowledge can aid the process of:
- Disarmament – they know who has weapons and can help in recovering them,
- Compensation – they are familiar with the pre-conflict situation, and can help to ensure that compensation is fair,
- Redress, reintegration and bringing to justice – they know who has committed what crimes, and can help to determine the needs of displaced persons who wish to return to their communities.
- Such a huge task requires a coordinated effort and therefore an additional aim of this workshop was to sketch out a plan to help coordinate the efforts made by many parties with different agendas, thereby helping official programmes and individual actions to support each other.
Silent, motionless, perched on a ledge at Las Batuecas (Spain), intent on capturing nuances of ancient lines that depict the might and manner of wild goats, I gain awareness of a large bird, voicing its coarse, high-pitched song in peaceful interludes from the trees behind me. I turn to take-in the privilege of its proximity and am surprised to find instead, five paces away, a family of well-fed corzos, roe bucks, babies and all, curious, cautious and at ease until, of course, I reach for my camera. They flee this dangerous predator, swiftly into the abyss, noiselessly scurrying away along imperceptible micro-ledges, wild, intelligent, free.
Generally described as a valley, the Parque natural de Las Batuecas is rather a small canyon in the Reserva de la Biósfera Sierras de Béjar y Francia, some two hours south of Salamanca. After WILD10 I immersed myself in its silence, mild microclimate and clear rivulets, wondrous to my body and soul.
On my days at Las Batuecas I saw several families of wild goats, I heard the owls and saw the snakes; wild boars were always nearby. They all bolstered the thought that Rewilding Europe is sure to be a success: At WILD10 I saw the bright eyes and earnest demeanour of delegates at the Rewilding Europe sessions and workshops. Their commitment, intelligence, knowledge, creativity, organization skills and Love are sure to turn the tables. As Europe sets the world’s fashion trends, so can Europe turn-on the world unto the heroics of the wilderness business, the glam glitz and joys of making the world a wilder place. With such a WILD10 crowd, I know we are to see the wild goats coming back.
By Geoff Dalglish, Trail to Salamanca
“Earth Pilgrim” Geoff Dalglish and others hiked the Trail to Salamanca from Geneva, 2500km (1500 miles) across four mountain ranges in six countries over 125 days, to arrive in Salamanca just as delegates gathered from all other the world for WILD10, the 10th World Wilderness Congress. All along the Trail, Geoff was joined by other hikers from local villages and organizations as they experienced and explored the re-emergence of ecological corridors and the return of wildlife across Europe.
“The future will belong to the nature-smart – those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”
-Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle
“Thank you for massaging the Earth with your footsteps. I’m sure Father Sky is looking down and appreciating what you are doing for our beautiful Mother.”
The words, accompanied by an unexpected hug, were uttered a few months ago by Howie, an Aboriginal elder who had often observed me returning from my early morning meditative walks along the beach near the Australian mainland’s most easterly point.
His thanks echoed my own gratitude for his gentle and loving presence and reminded me that feeling our oneness with the natural world is the way we used to live when we readily recognised our kith and kin in the animals, birds, plants and all life surrounding us.
While each of us is different I’m convinced that we all benefit from time outdoors, and I know that being in nature is good for me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I feel love and joy welling up in me, and my mind’s busyness is replaced by a deep calm and clarity. I need this – we all do.
These days much of my personal journey is about trying to reconnect others to the magnificence of the natural world, which so inspires me. With that love of wild nature comes humility, empathy and compassion, which are building blocks for better relationships with our world.
The poet William Wordsworth once wrote: “What you have loved, others will love, and you will teach them how.”
Lately I’ve also been intrigued to read about ‘Earthing’, a concept that involves aligning your body to the Earth’s surface energies, ideally by walking barefoot outside. The idea is that if your energy is resonating with that of the Earth’s, your body will be at a more natural state, which is energising and healing.
In a return to my childhood I’ve found myself walking barefoot more and more, but recently when my journey took me to Switzerland at a time of heavy, unseasonable snowfalls, I reluctantly had to resort to wearing trainers again. As I walked the Trail to Salamanca and the WILD10 world wilderness congress, I noticed how incredibly good it felt to remove my footwear and be barefoot during rest stops each day. It wasn’t just about cooling overheated and overworked feet, but about connecting with the Earth. I tried to do it often.
Walking can also be a reminder of so much our ancestors intuitively understood. And maybe many things we knew as children. Today we’re suffering from a numbing disconnection from other life. It is what my animal whispering friend Anna Breytenbach describes as a “disconnection sickness.”
On the rare days I don’t walk, I feel somehow less capable of meeting whatever challenges arise. And it is only since I’ve slowed down to a pace similar to that of my hunter-gatherer ancestors that my senses have become truly alive. I use them all to see, hear, smell, taste and touch the miracle of life. For countless centuries the very survival of our nomadic forebears was intrinsically interlinked with the cycles of the natural world. They were guided by the stars, seasons and weather patterns, as well as the movements and migrations of the creatures that they recognised as their kith and kin.
Now we are mostly insulated, anaesthetised, drugged and utterly disconnected from Gaia. We are surrounded by concrete, glass and steel and bombarded by technology and information-overload in a fast-paced world illuminated by artificial light and characterised by unnatural patterns of sleep and waking. We breathe polluted air, ingest chemical-laden products masquerading as food and invariably drive rather than walk. Depression, anxiety, confusion and hopelessness are the norm for pill-popping millions.
So what happened to our supposedly superior intellect and powers of reasoning?
Some 25 centuries ago, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, observed: “Illnesses do not come upon us out of the blue. They are developed from small daily sins against Nature. When enough sins have accumulated, illnesses will suddenly appear.”
Solutions, I believe, are all around us. We need to live simpler, more sustainable lives and find the peace and inspiration that comes from being in nature – from recognising our rightful place not as a controller of the natural world but a strand in the miraculous web of life.
We need to learn from the successful blueprint of nature, tapping into millions of years of accumulated wisdom, instead of pursuing a consumer-based materialistic madness, that if unchecked, can only result in our own extinction as a species.
Answers are all around us and they’re free.
Scientists are discovering that children are suffering from what is being called a Nature-Deficit Disorder. They need to grow up in nature with animals around them, climbing trees, swimming in streams and lakes, and ideally feeling the Earth beneath bare feet.
While I depend on my iPhone and MacBook Air to communicate with the world, I know that fundamental to my health and happiness is that connection. Nothing is more important than the solo meditative walk with which I start each day.
In her book Partnering with Nature, environmentalist Catriona MacGregor says: “This disconnection with nature can lead to physical as well as mental stress, from depression and fatigue to attention disorders and obesity. But by awakening a natural connection to the environment around us, we can move beyond simply using nature and into a true partnership with it.
“Ultimately, when we recognise the inherent sacredness of all life, we become forces for good in this world… nature has much to offer to all who will listen.”
(Geoff is Odyssey magazine’s pilgrim-at-large and this blog is based on a a feature commissioned by the integrated living publication www.odysseymagazine.co.za)> Read More