EcoLogic Staffer Contributes to Conference on Vulnerable Communities

Andrea Savage, third from left, with fellow participants.

Andrea Savage, third from left, with fellow participants.

This past December Andrea Savage, EcoLogic’s CarbonPlus associate, had the opportunity to attend a conference in Mexico on ecosystem threats and their impacts on vulnerable North American communities. The Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC), an advisory council for the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC), organized the conference and paid for Andrea’s attendance because of her work on EcoLogic’s forest carbon project in Chiapas, Mexico. EcoLogic’s CarbonPlus program collaborates with rural and indigenous communities to provide financial and technical guidance to establish forest carbon projects that obtain carbon credit payments for sequestering carbon, and thus making it financially viable for communities to leave forests standing. EcoLogic’s goal for this project is that these payments benefit communities directly.

Approximately 100 people attended the two day conference. Keynote speaker Elizabeth Smith from the US Environmental Protection Agency spoke about the latest methods for assessing threats and community needs. Other notable participants included Chief Carl Sidney, chief executive officer of the Teslin Tlingit Council Yukon, and Evelia Rivera Arriaga Environment Secretary for the State of Campeche, Mexico. Attendees participated in work groups discussing subjects such as how to develop tools to reduce a community’s vulnerability to threats posed by changing ecosystems such as extreme weather patterns, biodiversity loss, and changes in the availability of fresh water. These work groups also generated feedback for the CEC’s Framework Document to Improve the Environmental Health of Vulnerable Communities Across North America. This document is being finalized to help identify factors that contribute to a community’s health.

Andrea found the conference valuable for information sharing and networking, and she particularly appreciated a talk about geospatial mapping tools given by Karen Richardson, CEC Program Manager for Terrestrial and Marine Ecosystems. The mapping tools are used to identify and predict how ecosystem health might change in response to different management strategies and land use patterns. Observed Andrea, “These tools can be helpful in mapping current and future land use patterns in our Chiapas project area, so the conference topic was a timely one.”

EcoLogic’s work in the Lacandón Forest is being funded in part by the CEC.