Why another NGO?
We feel a need to promote nature conservation through environmetnal NGOs, they have been effective, they can continue to be. In Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Africa, Natural History NGOs have already done a lot, and there are many unmet needs in covering natural history study and promoting nature conservation here.
And there’s more reason to study, work, and campaign in conservation issues in the East – its often difficult, often challenging, but with important opportunities for success. The world is in flux, and the crises are not just economic or ecological. Our cultures are changing, and bringing nature inside closer to our cultures will increase the quality of life and the value systems we live by.
The result is an NGO that can promote our philosophy which is based on “conservation education”. Our interest for biodiveristy is deep and genuine. It is based on many years of experience in conservation campaigning and education both in the East and West.
Conservation Education Vision
Although people show a general interest for the environment, public knowledge about natural history and "living nature" or biodiversity is minimal. This is evident in the many "misinterpretations" about how to assess and solve environmental problems – such as wildfires, urban green-space management, water quality issues, etc. Sadly, so many good-willing initiatives do very little to stem the destruction and degradation of our natural heritage. Interest in wildlife outside of Western Europe is largely confined to a few attractive species in high-profile parks. Most people do not realize that nature is everywhere, even in the cities! And natural places are threatened by neglect and mismanagement especially near cities. Most people view the "small things" such as plants, invertebrates, and aquatic-life with indifference. At best, biodiversity is seen as a food source or for sport (i.e. for hunters, trappers, fishermen). One of the reasons we have so many environmental problems and environmental conflict in the East is that biodiversity interest is very low.
Even environmental education and university environmental science courses have few comprehensive programs on natural history, on hands-on biodiversity, or even nature conservation (i.e. conservation science). Yet, the need for conservation education is very high, and this need increases as environmental problems become more complex.
Conservation education shares many goals with environmental education; it is really a specialized aspect of environmental education. Its specific goals include:
- Knowledge – acquire a knowledge-base and understanding of the environment
- Awareness – acquire sensitivity to environment and environmental problems
- Attitudes – ethical development, values, feelings of concern and motivation for actively participating in environmental conservation
- Skills – Natural history research skills; identifying, inventorying, prioritizing, solving problems
- Participation – encourage students to use their knowledge and skills to become involved in conservation
Research has shown that appropriate education programs can improve public support for conservation, foster sustainable behaviour, reduce illegal activities in protected areas or against protected species; and influence policies and decisions that affect the natural environment. Focused conservation education programs can obviously make environmentalism more effective.
Away from the richer developed countries of Western Europe, biodiversity-rich areas are being degraded and little is being done to stop this. We believe visitors studying or touring in the East can have a positive impact by actively participating in organized conservation campaigns, natural history documentation, and in conservation education.