Changing attitudes to conservation

17th August 2013

During phase 2, X-Ray 3 debated and investigated issues around young people effecting change in conservation. Discussing as a group made us think broadly about the barriers preventing young people making a difference. 

Many of the barriers raised, such as lack of information and opportunity, were applicable to issues of conservation. A culture of apathy and disenchantment with current efforts to encourage positive change was also noted as a major barrier for young people.

We have been working on conservation projects in San Lucas Island and Carara National Park and conducted interviews with people in both places to find out their thoughts on conservation issues.

By questioning volunteers and tourists in the national parks, it was clear that many people do not hold an apathetic attitude to conservation. Volunteers at San Lucas stated that many people their age were engaging in the issue in a political as well as personal level by trying to implement a carbon neutral goal.

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Visitors to Carara National Park were also positive about the attitude towards young people and conservation. With visitors to Carara ranging in nationality it demonstrated conservation was a priority on an international scale. Nevertheless, many whom we have interviewed, acknowledge that many other people are disinterested in conservation.

Further education and awareness of the issues were decided as the most progressive means of tackling the issue of conservation. Raising awareness in the media was seen as key to achieving this, along with involvement with conservation orientated charities.

Interviewing the Carara ranger, Oscar, provided a fresh perspective on young people effecting change in conservation. Stating the average age of a ranger was 41, it was evident that his position of ranger was predominantly occupied by those with more experience. However he did know other rangers who were in their early twenties.

Whilst job opportunities in conservation seem to be filled by more senior applicants Oscar reported that it has not inhibited the growing enthusiasm for conservation amongst young people. A growing positive attitude to conservation is only overcoming one of many barriers to produce worthwhile change. Opportunities must exist if this position is to be acted upon.

Opportunities require funding to which both volunteers, tourists and rangers unanimously agreed was an ongoing struggle. For example there was only one ranger on San Lucas for the upkeep of the island and to warn off poachers.

If barriers to young people are to be overcome then there has to be increased opportunity, funding and education so organisations such as Raleigh can continue conservation efforts not just in Costa Rica but globally.

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