Published: 27 December 2006 at 10:15
Anglia Ruskin University students help to encourage ‘viable and sustainable’ ecotourism in the rainforest.
A group of nine undergraduate students from Anglia Ruskin University is looking for funding to support an independent student expedition to the Amazon rainforest during summer 2007.
The trip to the Pavacachi Reserve in Ecuador, planned in conjunction with the Anglia Ruskin Wildlife Society and Exploration Society, has been carefully chosen as it offers diverse opportunities for exploration and research, as well as a unique and valuable learning experience for all those involved. The group members are passionate in their wish to contribute to the conservation of tropical rainforests while, on a smaller scale, supporting the local community. By studying man and nature within the fascinating and biodiverse environment of the Amazon, the team hopes to look at ways in which the community can work symbiotically with nature to build a sustainable, economically stable and eco-friendly future.
The reserve is run and managed by the indigenous (Kichwa) community of Pavacachi who support themselves by subsistence farming, fishing and controlled hunting. As international companies cut ever deeper into the rainforest in search of oil, all forest communities are under pressure to integrate themselves with the outside world and its economy. The Pavacachi community wish to achieve this by implementing ecotourism in the reserve and are currently in the process of preparing for this.
Due to its remoteness and pristine condition, the area is also a perfect location for scientific research. Research has already revealed the exceptional biodiversity of the area and recorded around 450 species of bird, 13 species of primate and key species of large mammals such as tapir, jaguar and giant river otters.
Kat Powell, a member of the expedition and student of Wildlife Biology at Anglia Ruskin University, previously visited Pavacachi with British conservation organisation, Global Vision International. She spent twelvemonths over two years in South America working as a volunteer in various research stations and getting to know several indigenous communities in the lowland Amazon of Ecuador and Peru. Speaking about the forthcoming trip, she said:
Kat, who is 21 years old and lives in Swavesey, was formerly a student at Oxford University studying for a Classics degree. She pulled out of the course because it was in her words ‘intangible’.
Dr Mark Kennedy, senior lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, added: