What YOU Can Do:
Conservation is not just an NGOs responsibility; it has to start with each of us, each of our choices. At the end of the day, if we lose the rainforests, it will not be just a loss for Ecuadorians but for all of mankind. So what can I do to help not just the Chocó but also all the rainforests on Earth, which share similar threats? It’s not so difficult! Taking a look where our wood comes from, not purchasing exotic animals that come from the pet trade, trying to avoid products with oil palm, educating our children about the importance of preserving rainforests, supporting governments that believe in conservation and environmental issues – these are just some of the ideas that come to mind. Small things and changes can create huge differences, directly or indirectly making us actors in the conservation of tropical areas. We have to act now! We are already late…but must act now to change the course of what we have left!
–1Frame4Nature is a collection of images and stories from around the globe of your personal connection to nature. However small, when combined with the actions of others, your individual actions can impact real and tangible outcomes for the preservation of our planet. Submit your story now!
iLCP Fellow Lucas Bustamante 1Frame4Nature:
Tropical regions hold the vast majority of biodiversity on Earth; between 40% and 75% of all biotic species live in the rainforest. I was very privileged to be born in the heart of the tropics, a beautiful place called Ecuador. Smaller than the state of Arizona, this tiny nation holds the largest variety of ecosystems present in South America: the Amazon, Andes, Chocó, Dry forest and also the Galápagos Islands. In addition, its eternal spring weather makes Ecuador it the most biodiverse nation per square kilometer on Earth.
In Northwest Ecuador we found the Chocó, an enchanted rainforest that could have the same, or more, biodiversity than the famous Amazon basin, and is one of the 25 global biodiversity hotspots. This means it has a countless number of different species, many of them endemic – species that only occur there! Sadly, more than 95% of this forest has been cleared, rendering it one of the most threatened tropical forests in the world – if not the most!
During my last years studying, visiting and photographing the Chocó, I have seen it declining. Its main threats so far are the palm oil, crops, lumber companies, and slash and burn agriculture. It appears to me very difficult to accept that every day, hundreds of acres of this rainforest are being destroyed in exchange for a fine piece of furniture for our dining room or some of our daily-use products containing palm oil, like some toothpastes, soaps, and makeup.
So here’s where photography becomes essential as the best tool to raise awareness about environmental conservation and to show the people that this green planet has serious problems that threaten the balance of nature. Together with my NGO Tropical Herping and Muchmore Design, we decided to launch Save The Chocó. This project aims to protect the Chocó forests and to raise global awareness to preserve them, using aesthetical design and conservation photography as its main instruments. So what are the goals of Save The Chocó? As much as we can do we…:
- Buy strategic-located, critically threatened and well-preserved lands in the area, that will be managed for local foundations aimed to preserve those forests.
- Work with local and foreign governments and NGO’s on educational campaigns to help them realize the real value of the area for a sustainable life quality in the long term.
- Support the training of local communities and people around the area in eco-tourism, as a more profitable and less invasive way to live.
- Conduct biological research studies of groups of animals, plants and living things that inhabit the area in order to understand what is formally at risk.
- Look for influential and famous people that support and sponsor the initiative.
The result of these actions are then shared using audiovisual materials like coffee table books, documentaries, photo stories and articles in local and international press.
This article is brought to you by the 1Frame4Nature Campaign. Share a picture and story on Instagram with the hashtag #1Frame4Nature, of your personal connection to nature and tell us what action you’ve taken on behalf of our planet.