Ngöbe Botanical Garden

Ngöbe Botanical Garden

The official website of the Ngöbe Botanical Garden is:

http:://www.soloy.pueblerino.info

Mission of the Ngöbe Botanical Garden:

To establish a Botanical Garden to promote and complement the efforts of the people of the Comarca to reverse the process of environmental deterioration while emphasizing activities in the fields of conservation, formal and informal education, environmentally friendly recreation and ecological research.

TThe Ngöbe Botanical Garden is a small-scale enterprise coordinated by Mr Plinio Bejerano Rios. It is a family project which also involves his parents, Mr Jose Pepe Bejerano and Mrs Ana Rios, along with two other of their adult children. The garden already has a dedicated site and many plants are already there.

 

The Ngöbe Botanical Garden is a small-scale enterprise coordinated by Mr Plinio Bejerano Rios. It is a family project which also involves his parents, Mr Jose Pepe Bejerano and Mrs Ana Rios, along with two other of their adult children. The garden already has a dedicated site and many plants are already there.

The coordinator, Mr Plinio Bejerano Rios, has ample knowledge of indigenous development and conservation projects from his working experience in southern Costa Rica. He was the coordinator of juvenile projects with ARADIKES (a regional organisation of indigenous of the Dike region) in Buenos Aires, Costa Rica. He has attended seminars about planning strategies, sustainable farming practises, human relations, conflict management and administration.

The Ngöbe Botanical Garden will host a collection of orchids, trees, and other plants that will represent the regions vast botanical diversity. This initiative is the first of is kind in the region, and a long term goal of the project is to motivate other families in the Comarca to form similar projects.

The enterprise is not yet recognised as a non-profit organisation by the government; however, the coordinator seeks such a status, as well as collaboration with other NGO's.
With the support of European collaborators, the project already has a website:

Website: www.soloy.pueblerino.info
E-mail: jardinsoloy@yahoo.de
Coordinator: Plinio Bejerano Rios
Contact person for this proposal: Plinio Bejerano Rios


3. Beneficiaries

There are eight indigenous groups in the district of Besiko; among them are the Ngöbe. According to the 2000 census, 16.000 Ngöbe people reside in Besiko. The environment of the territory has deteriorated rapidly lately, and this project will be one of the first concrete actions to slow down and reverse this degradation by disseminating the importance of conservation and sustainable practises to the regions inhabitants.

4. Vision

To establish a Botanical Garden to promote and complement the efforts of the people of the Comarca to reverse the process of environmental deterioration, especially with activities in the fields of conservation, formal and informal education, environmentally and socially responsible tourism and ecological research.

5. Project Description

The excessive use of land for crop and livestock agriculture has significantly reduced the fertility of the soil, reducing the harvests families depend on to eat. Many families can no longer grow sufficient food on their land and are forced to look for employment outside of their communities, which is hard to find.

The principal causes of environmental degradation are farming practises that spoil the land and also affect other natural resources such as water, plants and animals. Clear cutting and fire clearing of forest areas are widespread and uncontrolled. The use chemical agricultural products and the sowing of crops on ecologically fragile land are also practises that a great majority of the Ngöbe people are using because they do not have access to information about alternative, less harmful methods of production.

The Botanical Garden will address these problems by teaching school children, high school students, families, and all who are interested the importance of environmental conservation in the Ngöbe Comarca. Therefore it will work in three main areas:

¢ Research: Up to today, there is not much formal scientific knowledge of the region, therefore scientific studies about the biology and geography will be run in collaboration with national and international partners.

¢ Education: Knowledge about nature, the importance of conservation, and about alternative, environmentally sustainable farming methods will be taught to the people of the region.

¢ Conservation: The Botanical Garden will be a model project to motivate the people in the region to similar activities in the field of environmental conservation.

Besides the conservation of natural resources the project will have many other benefits including the protection of a source of potable water, and attracting visitors who will buy local products like organic coffee and handicrafts. It is anticipated that this kind of development project will attract a significant number of visitors who are interested in ecological tourism and environmental science.

6. Working Plan

¢ Construction of the infrastructure and an accommodation area for scientific collaborators and visitors interested in the ecology and culture of the Comarca. The latter will require coordination with local groups for arranging entertainment and recreation for the ecotourist.

¢ Drafting of an research plan to investigate the biodiversity, develop regional planning and identify the collected plants in the garden with the local and international help.

¢ Developing of an educational plan for the Ngöbe Comarca which is orientated towards the sensitivity of the region, the importance of environmental protection, and local organisation.

7. Scientific Aims

¢ Taxonomic Classification of local plants and animals. In the beginning the focus will be on orchids and locally used tree species.

¢ Climatic measurements.

¢ Mapping of the regions geographical and botanical features.

8. Long-term Goals

The long-term goal of the project is to establish possibilities for families and organisations of the Ngöbe Comarca to improve their capacity to restrain and reverse the process of environmental degradation in the region. Therefore an organisational plan for the region will be drafted, based on scientific criteria but at the same time respecting and engaging the community, with the following strategies:

¢ The Comarca Ngobe people will participate in the organisational planning of the territory and collaborate in the actions the community defines to preserve the natural resources, and establish strategies for the administration of these actions in the future.

¢ The generation of employment- and revenue opportunities should not negatively affect the natural environment of the Comarca or the Ngöbe culture.

¢ New sources of income and conservation actions will be established for the Ngöbe families and organisations in accord to the long-term of the project.

9. Resources

The Botanical Garden already has a dedicated site; the collection of plants has already started (especially orchids and trees). Furthermore there is a forest area of 20 ha put aside for conservation.

Several volunteers have already visited and with there help a webpage was created (www.soloy.pueblerino.info). There is also a small guest house in place with to rooms to accommodate guests.

10. Summary

The Botanical Garden Ngöbe is a project to improve the environmental conditions in the Comarca Ngöbe-Bugle in Panama. Through the scientific research more information about the region will be collected which will be passed on to the people through formal and informal education. Furthermore the Botanical Garden will serve as a model for further conservation action. The development of ecotourism will also lead to an economic improvement in the region.

Appendix

The projects three central fields are research, education, and conservation; they will be explained further in the following:

Research:
"... Up to today, there is not much formal scientific knowledge of the region, therefore scientific studies about the biology and geography will be run in collaboration with national and international partners.

Scientific aims:
¢ Taxonomic Classification of local plants and animals. In the beginning the focus will be on orchids and locally used tree species.
¢ Climatic measurements.
¢ Mapping of the regions geographical and botanical features. …"

Ad 1. The project wants to start the taxonomic identification of the regions plant and animal species (Inventory with name, distribution, status, use, etc.). Therefore we look for collaboration with national and international students and experts.

Ad 2. In the beginning we want to measure temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind speed. If possible the measuring instruments should function without electricity. Support is needed for the acquisition and installation of the instruments, afterwards somebody should be taught the operation and maintenance of the equipment.

Ad 3. Mapping of the region with aerial- or satellite photos (older ones to document the historical development would also be interesting). Creation of physical, geobotanical, land use and similar maps to improve the capability of observing and planning the development of the region.

Education:
"... Knowledge about nature, the importance of conservation, and about alternative, environmentally sustainable farming methods will be taught to the people of the region...."

In cooperation with local schools pupils and students will be invited to the botanical garden and will be taught traditional and modern knowledge about local plants. Thereby the importance of nature conservation and environmental protection will also be discussed. Additionally we will work with local teachers to create teaching material for these fields. Those will also be translated into the Ngöbe language to make the topic easily accessible for all people of the region.

Besides the Botanical Garden is also welcoming all persons, groups, and organisations (local, from Panama, or from abroad) who are interested in the biology and culture of the Ngöbe-Comarca.


Conservation:
"…The Botanical Garden will be a model project to motivate the people in the region to similar activities in the field of environmental conservation..."
The forest is used by the Ngöbe in many ways; it is the source of wood for construction and fire for cooking, forest plants are used in traditional medicine and as raw material for handicrafts. Nevertheless the forest is destroyed, mainly for economic reasons (need for agricultural land), which brings along lots of problems (Erosion, loss of biodiversity, etc.)

The Botanical Garden will show the people the importance of nature and especially the forest and will thereby create and enforce an environmental consciousness. Furthermore it will also show that the creation of protect areas and the implimation of an alternative less harmful agriculture is of economic use too (better or at least more secure harvests, but also income from ecotourism and related fields (i.e. handicraft)).