Post-graduate Traveling Fellowship Recipient Essay

1146 Words 5 Pages
Post-graduate Traveling Fellowship Recipient

"With every step, you are met by the most bizarre and wonderful forms," she told me. I have never heard someone talk about nature in the way that my host mother in France did. She has not been able to return to what she calls "the jungles of Madagascar"-her birthplace-but images of wild and beautiful greenness have never left her mind. In Madagascar, there are two hundred thousand different species of living things; ninety-three percent of them are endemic to this island. Wide-eyed lemurs and bright red Fody birds can be found nowhere else in the world. Nature has made of Madagascar an isolated and thriving sanctuary for flowers, frogs, and monkeys different from those created elsewhere.
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They can observe, study, and appreciate ecological processes in this context. For an growing percentage of the world's population, urban areas may be the only context in which any kind of experiential education about the environment can take place.

Thirty percent of Madagascar's population currently lives in urban areas, and the numbers are rapidly increasing. Therefore, environmental education in Madagascar needs to be designed to use urban resources. Students may return to these spaces day after day; they may observe and study the dynamic and continuous processes that define the natural environment. As they spend time in these places and see changes occurring, they may come to feel a sense of stewardship about the space. An understanding of the natural processes that are happening in these local places-combined with this feeling of connection to the land-provides great potential in inspiring motivation to protect and to conserve.

People I have contacted in Madagascar have told me that this kind of urban environmental education is particularly necessary in Antananarivo (Tananarive), the capital city. Pat Wright, of the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments (ICTE), has worked in Madagascar for ten years, and she assures me that this kind of work would also be welcomed. Even

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