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Engaging a new generation of conservationists: Francinie takes action

Francinie, a bat-conservationist from Costa Rica, shares how she started a conservation initiative with support from Action Not Excuses.

11th November 2021

Francinie, a bat-conservationist from Costa Rica, is passionate about engaging others in nature and wildlife conservation. So after being granted seed money as a first generation member of the Action Not Excuses Greentalist campaign, she was able to start her initiative Jardines Faunamigables (Wildlife-friendly Gardens) to enable others to develop conservation skills from their own gardens. 

As a young biologist involved in conservation, I saw a change in people’s perception of their backyards right after the quarantines started in 2020. Suddenly, people realized their yards were more alive than they thought. They started to listen to different bird songs. Bugs never seen before were showing up in their pot plants. And at night, frogs would jump across the lawn while bats flew over the house.

My colleagues from the Bat Conservation Program of Costa Rica (PCMCR) and I started to get lots of emails and DMs from people asking for tips to help the animals they had just discovered. They would ask: What can I do so the animals feel safe in my yard? Which plants are good for them? How can I help the native bees that visit my flowers? I kept thinking about that.

An idea was born.

When I had the opportunity to participate in a conference organized by the Natural Resource Management students of a local university, I talked about tips to create wildlife-friendly gardens. But I wanted to do more than talk to students already involved in wildlife conservation. I wanted to talk to people like my neighbours and those asking for advice through Instagram. I wanted to start a project to promote gardens as safe spaces for remnant wildlife in urban areas.

It is important to remember that urban wildlife is key to keeping green patches alive and growing by pollination and seed dispersal. And those green patches offer nourishment and refuge to the wildlife. Gardens and yards, on the other hand, are like stepping stones that animals can use to reach forest fragments.

Jardines Faunamigables came to life thanks to Greentalist

Finally, in 2021 Jardines Faunamigables (or Wildlife-friendly Gardens) came to life after I was granted seed money as a first generation member of the Action Not Excuses Greentalist project. Then I was able to start a nursery of native plant species.

With the help of my colleagues from the Bat Conservation Program, we organized an online campaign to engage people into using their gardens as a small conservation effort to help wildlife. We organized a citizen science project in the iNaturalist platform so people could document by photographs the wildlife in their gardens.

We also conducted two online workshops with participants from Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, and Colombia. In these workshops over 50 participants learned the foundations of garden design, safe wildlife-friendly practices to promote fauna visitation, and how to use mobile apps for citizen science and conservation. The Costa Rican attendees were given a kit of plants and gardening booklets to improve their yards.

This is only the beginning

Recently, the Jardines Faunamigables project received a donation of native garden plants, and in collaboration with The School for Field Studies (SFS), the plants will be placed in an experimental pollinator garden. And this is only the beginning!

My fellow conservationists and I (from the Bat Conservation Program) are keeping the nursery healthy to share native plants with environmental initiatives involved in conservation or restoration. We will also continue with our online campaign and workshops.

I believe that small environmental efforts add up for significant changes later on. Being a Greentalist member gave me the motivation and support I needed to start Jardines Faunamigables, and I’m pleased to see the interest that people show in turning their gardens into a small oasis for urban wildlife.

If you want to get involved or know more about Jardines Faunamiagables, you can contact Francinie: fran.105.gs@gmail.com

Now is the time for Action Not Excuses. Tomorrow is too late.

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