Principles

We are a non-profit organization and support initiatives that contribute to the preservation and sustainable use of mangrove forests and tropical rain forests in Ecuador and also contribute to the improvement of living conditions for the native local population.

 

Project areas

After supporting communities in the tropical rain forest of Ecuador for many years, we currently concentrate our efforts on the largest mangrove protection concession in Ecuador, located in the Gulf of Guayaquil.

Mangrove forests are among the most productive ecosystems on Earth and are an essential habitat for the survival of a variety of animal species – and also significant for local small-scale fishing. Mangroves provide a natural protection from natural disasters (such as storms and floods) and against erosion. They serve as an important CO2-sink and represent the livelihood of the native local people. Despite its immense importance, more than 20 % of the mangrove forests were destroyed between 1980 and 2005 (FAO 2007, ‘The World’s Mangroves’). In the Gulf of Guayaquil 45 % of the mangroves have disappeared since 1969 (C-CONDEM 2007, ‘Certificando la Destrucción’). Main reasons for destruction are competing forms of land use – especially shrimp farming and rice cultivation – as well as the pressure of the population growth in coastal areas.

 

Aims

In order to establish sustainable uses of the mangrove forests, the ecological problems have to be taken into account which occur within the social and economic situation of the local communities. Especially the native people, domiciled in the mangrove forests, play a crucial role in the sustainable use of forests due to their knowledge and experience. We believe that communities will be able to successfully use their natural resources with a specific community management, if they can satisfy their basic needs. Therefore, it is effective to primarily support the communities in fields such as education, health, drinking water supply and local decision-making structures.

 

Type of cooperation

We work together with communities that show an own interest and take the initiative on the preservation of the surrounding forests. We are aware that development cooperation can often cause problems, and therefore, want to avoid the creation of dependency and promote self-organization and self-determination of the communities. Our aim is that as many local residents as possible actively get involved in the projects and feel connected with them - from the first idea to the point of planning, the following implementation and independent continuation of a project. At this juncture, the existing cooperation with local fishermen’s associations and other organizations – especially the NGO Fundación Cerro Verde – are of great importance.

 

Voluntary service

The continuous presence of volunteers in the project areas plays a central role in our work. On the one hand, we have an insight into the current situation on the ground and can accompany long-term developments. On the other hand, intensive exchanges and mutual learning from each other is the only possible way. The volunteers also take responsibility in the coordination and development of our projects, which is why we place emphasis on intensive preparation. Since the existence of our organization over 100 volunteers have already been operating for “Schutzwald” and many of them have remained as active members. Currently, we are offering seven posts with a duration of 12 months, which are recognized as “weltwärts” voluntary services of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Additionally, we offer self-contained volunteer services by arrangement to participate in individual projects of conducting own researches.

 

Funding

The organization is voluntarily administered and thrives on the commitment of active members who personally know the projects and are associated with them. The financing of the projects we support is possible on the basis of membership and of the funding from the “weltwärts” program of BMZ as well as of project-based fundraising. Thus, we want to bind the funds to specific projects, and simultaneously prevent financial dependency on the part of the cooperating municipalities.