Colombia is the 2nd most biodiverse country on Earth. However, protecting and undertaking research on this natural treasure has been extraordinarily difficult during Colombia’s lengthy civil war. The peace agreement between the former FARC-EP guerrilla and the Colombian government in 2016 opened access to key eco-regions. While this facilitated an advance in documenting biodiversity, it also led to increased biodiversity threats and loss. Since 2016, deforestation increased >65% across the country and >150% in protected areas. To address some of these complex issues, A/Prof Gongora established ‘Peace with Nature’, which focuses on empowering former guerrilla fighters, victims of the conflict and local communities to contribute to the protection of biodiversity, create new life choices and promote nature-based socioeconomic development in the Colombian Amazon. Peace with nature has created a unique model of training that includes participatory documentation (citizen science) of biodiversity and the co-design of nature-based activities to be incorporated into ecotourism projects established by excombatants.
This project focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of the capacity building approach and impact of Peace with Nature in documenting and protecting biodiversity and developing the green bioeconomy of local communities. This project will include three components: Implementation of surveys to obtain feedback from participants of the Peace with Nature project about knowledge and skills gained from workshops and practical activities; analyses of the benefits of learnt skills and knowledge in the generation of products and/or actions to be incorporated as part of the ecotourism offerings and in protection of biodiversity; and development, implementation and evaluation of citizen strategies to engage local communities and tourists in documenting and monitoring local biodiversity.
This project may involve travel to remote areas of Colombia during planned and authorised trips, but work could be implemented remotely from Australia if this is not possible. Ideally applicants should have some fluency in Spanish in order to communicate and engage with stakeholders.
The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 3285