|Conservation Education: a Planning Guide (Peace Corps, 1995)|
I know of no more important and critical component of natural resources planning and management than conservation education. And I know of no one more suited to deal with this vital topic than Diane and David Wood.
Conservation education is the one component of resources management that is at the same time the most responsible for success or failure of a project and the most ignored. That seeming paradox is addressed by the Woods in the introduction to this practical and valuable book aimed at a wide range of readers.
The paradox should not be overlooked. For any natural resources management project to succeed it must have broad support and understanding. Requisite support does not come about simply because a development organization decides to fund a project, because a developing country requests a team of experts to prepare a management plan, or because legislation is passed to protect or conserve an area.
Broad support comes, simply, through understanding the need for sound conservation which leads to a real commitment. That process involves conservation education - for politicians, for project designers, for government officials affected by conservation, for funders, for resource managers, for the general public and people locally affected by conservation actions.
Not only is conservation education ignored, it is most often ignored by natural resources planners and managers who feel education is only an add-on luxury to be afforded by someone else. How wrong they are, as the myriad management documents collecting dust on shelves, and land use conflicts initiated by poorly planned development projects attest.
The Woods realize the importance of developing and designing a conservation education program by first listening, listening to the people who are affected by and who can best describe environmental problems. They know, and emphasize in this manual that listening is the key to effective communication which is the key to an effective conservation education program. They know this because they have a great deal of experience in developing countries at the ground-level designing and implementing successful programs.
I recall developing a Peace Corps assignment in Paraguay several years ago for one conservation education specialist for two years. Diane and David Wood were selected from among hundreds of qualified applicants to the Smithsonian-Peace Corps Environmental Program for the assignment. After initially saying "But we only wanted one person for two years," Paraguay asked the Woods to remain for four years and to design, implement, and train others for conservation education programs. They successfully did. Their experiences in Paraguay were only the beginning of what has led them now to being considered by many as two professionals who have the dedication, the confidence of associates in developing countries, and the sensitivity to listen, communicate, and then design effective conservation education programs.
I am pleased the Woods have shared these experiences with us in this manual. The Woods have a proven track record, and those readers who follow this manual will greatly enhance their chances for a successful program.
Dr. James A. Sherburne Director of African Operations African Wildlife Foundation