Putting the Community Back in Community Ecology and Education: The Role of Field Schools and Private Reserves in the Ethical Training of Primatologists
Garber, P A
Molina, R L
American journal of primatology 2010 Sep; 72(9): 785-93
In 1993 and 1999, with the assistance of a Nicaraguan family, we founded La Suerte Biological Research Station in northeastern Costa Rica and Ometepe Biological Research Station in southern Nicaragua as a privately owned conservation-oriented business. Our goal was to develop a program of sustainable community ecology focused on education, research, and the conservation of primates and tropical forests. In order to accomplish this we developed field courses in which undergraduate and graduate students conduct scientific research, experience local cultures, and learn about conservation. Over 120 of these students have received doctoral degrees or are currently in graduate programs. Four doctoral dissertations, several MA theses, and some 20 scientific articles have been published based on research conducted at our field stations. In order to achieve our long-term goals of preserving the environment, we also needed to engage directly with local communities to address their needs and concerns. To this end, we developed a series of community-based initiatives related to health care, bilingual education, and conservation education using traditional and on-line teaching tools. In this article, we describe our efforts in Costa Rica and Nicaragua teaching conservation-oriented field courses and working with the local human communities. Building upon these experiences, we outline a set of ethical considerations and responsibilities for private reserves, conservation-oriented businesses, NGOs, and conservancies that help integrate members of the local community as stakeholders in conservation.
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