Nonformal Conservation Education in Mexico: Characterizing Current Practices and Assessing Perceived Role, Capacities and Needs
Natural Protected Areas
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractStrategic planning in conservation of natural protected areas should include a human component, since human activity can threaten the health of the natural site. It is the competition for the resources that makes management of these areas a contentious issue. Effective education is key in resolving such issues and in ensuring that informed decisions are made concerning the uses of these valuable natural assets. This study tests this assumption in two phases.The first phase addresses the need to present a wider picture on the current state of environmental education practices in Mexico: Who is engaging in environmental education practices? How important is it for their organization? Who are they targeting and which methods and settings are they choosing and what environmental issues are they addressing? To achieve this, we administered a survey to 118 representatives from conservation and environmental education agencies and organizations in Mexico. Results show that conservation non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are taking the lead in the field of environmental education in Mexico. Education appears to be an important tool that is used widely by environmental and conservation organizations. At the same time, there seems to be a serious lack of funding.The second phase concentrates on conservation education, a specific aspect of environmental education that focuses on biodiversity issues. This is a growing field in Mexico, thanks especially to the system of Natural Protected Areas and the supporting network of conservation NGOs. This phase of the study presented a comparative analysis of perceived roles of education in the conservation of nature, between Mexico and the US and between practitioners and funders. In this phase we also compared the prescribed parameters defined by well known frameworks from academia with those perceived by education and conservation practitioners. We used a combination of online surveying and content analysis to evaluate this issue. Results illustrate that there are similarities between Mexico and the U.S., but with key differences in the target audiences, methods and settings. Funders do not consider education one of their high priorities, while practitioners do. This discrepancy may hamper the growth and maturation of conservation education in Mexico.
Degree ProgramGraduate College