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Totonicapán: Students Train to Protect the Community Forest

With the support of Creative Action Institute, EcoLogic Development Fund, and the Natural Resources Councilof the 48 Cantons, high school students received training to learn how to protect the natural resources in their community.

By Leopoldo Batz, the article was originally published on Prensa Comunitaria.

With the community forest as a setting and living space, young students from Totonicapán participated in a series of workshops about environmental protection. According to the organizers, the knowledge shared during the seminar must also be conveyed to other educational institutions and communities.

EcoLogic, in coordination with Creative Action Institute, the Departmental Directorate of Education, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the Natural Resources Board of the 48 Cantons, conducted a course on creative advocacy for the recovery, conservation, and management of the Totonicapán forest.

The four workshops were held in the forest nursery of the 48 Cantons, a place chosen to share knowledge on the importance of forest preservation, conservation, and sustainability.

During the day, there were discussions on the solutions to environmental problems. Reyes Morales, one of the facilitators of the workshop, said that students were provided with tools and knowledge to understand the issues from an emotional point of view. This way, they could visualize and share actions to preserve the communal forest.

Photo: Leopoldo Batz

Mario de León of EcoLogic pointed out that during the four sessions, the students identified and analyzed problems and proposed a project to promote the workshop's activities, which focused on conserving and protecting natural resources.

The topics highlighted by the students were: the use of water, the forest, reforestation, how to avoid illegal logging, and the different problems that may exist in the community.

The Relationship with Natural Resources: A Learning Process for Students

Student Marleny Hernández commented: "We gained new knowledge. We didn't know how to plant a tree correctly, and I learned curious facts about plants. We also did some practice. For example, when a person is angry or has negative feelings when planting a seed, it will not produce any fruit."

For the 25 students from various institutions of the Department's capital, from San Cristóbal Totonicapán, Momostenango, and San Francisco el Alto, it was an experience of extraordinary learning inside the nursery and the forest surroundings.

In the fourth and last workshop, the students placed ribbons inside the greenhouses with different messages about the importance of conserving the environment, as well as positive thoughts and wishes.

The students involved in the workshop later carried out a knowledge exchange in their schools, sharing reflection and ideas and placing ribbons with positive messages on the trees of their schools, too.

We are at a very critical moment for our planet, where the effects of climate change are becoming more evident. I believe that we can do something about it, even if it is small but sustained over time

"The interest from the student has been high. We planted the seed, and now hopefully, their commitment will grow. We are at a very critical moment for our planet, where the effects of climate change are becoming more evident. I believe that we can do something about it, even if it is small but sustained over time," said Reyes Morales.

Photo: Leopoldo Batz

At the end of the workshop, surrounded by the richness of the communal forest of Totonicapán, the students received a certificate of recognition from the representatives of the different institutions.

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