Environment conservation and
work with communities

Working with indigenous communities towards ecosystem conservation

Biological, socio-cultural and technological approaches to conservation

Extensive research has shown that indigenous communities are the best guardians of the ecosystem, and only by working together can we truly develop the best conservation strategies.

Since 2019, I have been working back to back with the Embera community of southeastern Panama. This community lives in an area blessed with great diversity. To be more specific, their territory overlaps with one of the 5 Latin American Hotspots of Biodiversity (The Tumbes-Choco region), indicating that various local species can only be found here. However, illegal deforestation has already claimed over 50% of their territory. Deforestation is affecting not only biodiversity but it is also threatening their cultural ways since these are tightly intertwined with the forest.

 

Currently, I am working with the community to facilitate and better guide their efforts towards forest conservation, climate change mitigation, and cultural revitalization projects. To do so, we are doing the following projects:

 

  • We intertwine GPS and GIS methodologies with community mapping to record and document the historical effects of deforestation, and the community plans to recover their forest. By conciliating technology and traditional knowledge, we are creating maps that fully represent indigenous goals and ideas but which are still easily accessible and navigable by relevant stakeholders. If you want to see one of these maps, check the cartography section!

  • By working hand in hand with local elders and youth, we are creating the first Ethnobotanical encyclopedia in the community. To support their cultural revitalization initiatives, we are documenting all of this plant knowledge by doing a community photography project with local youth. By doing so, not only are we compiling the info required for the encyclopedia, but we are also developing photography skills that the youth can use to tell their stories.

  • The youth in the community needs access to electricity to do their school homework since presential classes have stopped during the Pandemic.  We are currently installing several solar panels around the community and teaching them how to install them and maintain them. With a reliable source of electricity, the youth will be able to access education while also facilitating communication with stakeholders.

 

Although we are carrying out these projects, so much work remains to be done. The agrochemicals being used to grow pastures in deforested land have leached into local waterways, polluting the community's only water source. Most of the deforestation is caused by fires, which have already claimed most of the community's crops. With no access to potable water and their crops burnt, the community's water and food sovereignty are threatened.

 

We are currently looking for people or funding to solve these issues! If you are interested or would like to help, please send me a message!

Researching the effect of Climate Change and Invasive species in forest biodiversity and carbon emissions 

Evaluating the effects of Temperature and invasive species in Forest Carbon.

During the two years of my Post-Graduate degree, I studied the changes in tree species biodiversity and forest carbon after 20 years

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Those 20 years were particularly relevant (1998-2018) since two invasive species (Emerald Ash Borer and Beech Scale) were first reported in Southern Quebec in 1998. Additionally, most record breaking temperatures occurred during that time. After 3 months spent in the field, measuring the diameter of over 5,000 trees and taking over 1,000 soil samples, I carried out several multivariate analyses on my data using programming languages like R and Python.

The results are being processed to be published but please feel free to contact me if you are interested in the subject or if you are doing similar research!

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Animal conservation through green design

Working towards alliances between private companies and conservation NGO's

One of the beautiful things about conservation is that you can do it in many different ways. You just need the passion to protect something and you will find a way to do it.

I used to work as a freelance for the green fashion company Marbags. They sell neoprene fairtrade bags. Their designs are inspired by endangered animals, trying to bring the public's attention to their conservation status. As their conservation agent, I helped them form alliances to help raise funds for the animals our designs are inspired on.

Please go check the Axolotl lab, Save Vietnam Wildlife, and Marbags to learn and be involved in their initiatives! Also, send me a message if you want to know how to get involved!

Do you have any suggestions or would like to get involved in my work?

If you are interested in helping the Embera, work in forest conservation, learn GIS or support animal conservation NGO's, send me a message! I will happily discuss with you the several ways we can collaborate and help together!

In the meantime, check out koju's Instagram account "kojuplants" to learn more about the interesting world of plants! 

Get In Touch

Thanks for submitting!

Santiago R. Said-M.Sc. Environmental Biologist