In 2005, Roman Jolomna Caal participated in an EcoLogic training course to become an EcoLogic forest guardian. Forest guardians are “ambassadors of the forest” and their primary mission is to conduct outreach and education, passing on knowledge and understanding to their neighbors and communities. EcoLogic and its local partner, the Northern Border Municipalities Alliance (MFN), have been training forest guardians since 2005, and have now trained more than 250 who promote forest stewardship.
Forest guardians are volunteers recruited from the local community who attend discussions and workshops over a period of several weeks and learn about basic ecology and conservation practices from EcoLogic field technicians. For Roman it was a life changing experience. “Before the training, I had no problem cutting down trees, hunting the animals, and burning the trees and the land. The training made me realize I was seeing the bad results—there are very few trees or animals left. Now I know how that is hurting us. And I have the ability to try to change that.”
In order to reach even more people than the 350 or so families in his community, Roman hit on the idea to start a radio show about conservation. Roman walked five hours to a neighboring town in February 2011 and paid a fee to broadcast for two hours. In that time, he also took almost 35 phone calls from listeners. Heartened by the response, Roman did another couple of shows at the same station, but the travel time and the fee were significant hardships for him, and so Roman searched for an alternative.
In late January 2013 Roman began a new, regular two hour radio show, broadcast from a radio station just an hour’s travel from his home. EcoLogic is supporting this work as part of our larger outreach efforts. Every Monday night from now through May, Roman—sometimes joined by fellow forest guardians—shares the lessons he has learned with thousands of listeners in neighboring communities in the Ixcán municipality in northern Guatemala. The local response has been good. Reports EcoLogic Field Technician Antonio Chipel, “people are listening and calling in. They want to know how to learn more about reforestation, water conservation and other activities.”
We hope to bring you a recording of the show later in the year. Meanwhile, EcoLogic is very proud to have inspired Roman’s initiative and of his success in spreading the message of conservation and restoration to more communities in northern Guatemala. Thank you, Roman!