Women for Conservation

Women for Conservation Begins Training New Female Forest Guards

Women for Conservation is excited to announce the addition of two new women to our forest Guard training program! These women have been involved with Women for Conservation’s community group in the village of Puerto Pinzón, Puerto Boyacá, Boyacá which has been active since 2013.

“I believe this is a special opportunity for us, especially for me because I come from the city.  I am getting to know the local biodiversity, exploring the natural environment, and learning about many species of birds and animals that I never knew about before. We are learning so many new skills and we are given the opportunity to learn, discover, and analyze things in our environment. Each new species we encounter, we learn to identify”.  – Sandra Acevedo

The women joined ProAves Rangers for training in the skills needed to monitor and manage endangered species in the El Paujil Reserve.  The group is currently learning to aid in scientific research and conservation work by mastering bird identification, GPS tracking, and monitoring of species in the reserve.

These women are trail-blazers in their community as the first women from Puerto Pinzón who have pursued forest guard training. We work to increase representation of women in the conservation field, and hope that more girls are inspired to pursue environmental careers as these women bring back their training to children and others in their communities. Women for Conservation promotes and enables the training of female forest rangers in reserves across Colombia by recruiting interested local women, connecting them to the ProAves training programs, and covering the fees for training and basic equipment. The workshops are taught by WFC Subdirector Johana Castro, as well as biologist Andrea Borrero, a local expert of ornithology.

Ranger trainee Sandra Acevedo (28),  has 3 children and is grateful for this new career opportunity. Sandra spoke to us about the lack of opportunities she had as a girl who became pregnant as a teenager and had to leave her family’s home when she was only 16.

“This opportunity is very important, because many women are able to feel liberated by this training program. Many other women I know suffer verbal and psychological abuse from their husbands, and they put up with it because they think that they don’t have any other way to financially support themselves.”

“This program helps us become independent.  It helps us learn that we can better ourselves –  as women, mothers, and heads of households. Too often our children tie us to an abusive husband. Without a job, we think we can’t support our children without him. This forest guard career training gives us the opportunity to support our children ourselves. It gives us the opportunity to move forward without looking back, to leave abusive relationships and to decide to be free. This is the opportunity given to us by Women for Conservation.” – Sandra Acevedo

Puerto Pinzón’s Women’s Group Activities

Women for Conservation’s community group in Puerto Pinzón consists of 10 women between the ages of 14-60, who are interested in building community, empowering women, and protecting the incredible biodiversity of the Paujil ProAves Reserve. So far in 2022, the group has organized community meals, sustainable artisanal jewelry making workshops, biodiversity education workshops, and meetings to share experiences and expectations for the group. Women for Conservation has been able to support this work through our staff member Johana Alejandra Castro Arango, and group leader María Ciria Torres Ramírez, as well as organizing the sale of sustainable vegetable ivory crafts in the ProAves Reserve ecoledges. Additionally, Women for Conservation has been able to bring approximately $1,000 USD in direct fair-trade payments to artisan women by selling sustainably produced necklaces and keychains in ProAves nature ecolodges in the first quarter of 2022. This additional income going directly to mothers and women has the potential to greatly benefit the families in the larger municipality of Puerto Boyaca, which reports a poverty rate of approximately 40%.  In addition to providing supplemental income to families, this income helps the artisans invest in tools and materials to further grow their micro-businesses.

Our work in the Puerto Boyacá region is especially important because of Colombia’s history, as in the 1980’s and 1990’s it was deeply devastated by the Colombian Armed conflict. Women for Conservation works in the rural communities located along the Magdalena River, which is Colombia’s main river basin and an important highway for the transport of goods.

Caption: WFC Subdirector Johana Castro with forest ranger training class

Biodiversity of Puerto Pinzón’s ProAves’ El Paujil Reserve

Women for Conservation’s Puerto Pinzón project empowers women to become involved in biodiversity protection around the ProAves El Paujil Reserve. Key species protected by this reserve include the Blue-billed curassow (Critically Endangered) , the Brown Spider Monkey (Critically Endangered), and Spectacled Bear (Vulnerable).  ProAves’ Paujil Reserve is home to 377 different species of birds, including 7 endemic, 8 nearly-endemic, and 8 threatened bird species.  Additionally, the reserve is home to 43 species of mammals (18 threatened), 32 species of amphibians (1 threatened), and 46 species of reptiles.

Caption: Sandra encounters the critically endangered Crax Alberti during a forest guard training session