An ambitious environmental education program has received initial approval of the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Fund and if approved in its final stage could represent an investment of almost 4 million pesos for local initiatives during 12 months starting mid-2012.
The idea of a composting project was suggested by Edit DeJong and Michael Waldman of Puro Verde, the first local company dedicated to composting organic waste working for two years now in Las Terrenas. According to Edit and Michael "the implementation of this plan will help place Las Terrenas at the forefront of municipalities in the world that learn how to use sustainable environmental practices to clean up their environment and to contribute to global environmental protection."
The proposal was written by Jose Bourget of the local Mahatma Gandhi Foundation and it’s named "Project Reverde." Bourget's proposal is focused on environmental education so that all members of the community and in particular the younger generation learn how to think "green" and how to preserve natural resources in the community. Bourget, author of "The Declaration of Las Terrenas" on the environment (2007) says that "although it is difficult to change adults’ habits, children and youth are a great potential for changing the culture of waste and depredation and turn it into a culture of preservation and of sustainable management of the natural resources. "Along with Edit and Michael, I believe that the future of Las Terrenas is intimately linked to the environment and this proposal can help us make a giant leap towards a better future for the environment in the community, in the neighborhoods, among businesses, tourists and in the country as a whole," says Bourget.
Social, Educational and Economic Impact
If funded the proposal would help convert the K-8 Public School of Las Terrenas and 10 neighborhoods into environmental learning centers where people and students learn the fundamentals of conservation, composting, recycling, sanitation and environmental protection. With a population of 2000 students, the elementary public school is a powerful source for social economic and educational potential. For instance, students would participate in plastic recycling efforts, in the production of organic compost, and in the application of environmental theories and practices in key neighborhoods of the city. Cages would be built in schools and neighborhoods to "trap" plastic and other recyclables, while extending the collection of organic material in homes, businesses and neighborhoods, to be processed by Puro Verde. One result is that less solid waste would end up in the open-air municipal garbage dump and the community would benefit significantly. Recycling and composting have economic benefits because plastics and compost would be sold and profits would return to participating entities. Moreover, a cleaner community is more desirable to residents and tourists which would help make the municipality a more attractive destination for a greater number of people.
Mayor Joins the Project
In addition to Puro Verde and the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation the project has the support of the Union of Neighborhood Associations of Las Terrenas and the Ecotopia Botanical Park and it is hoped that more local individuals and organizations will join the project. Of utmost importance has been the support requested from Mayor Jose Alexis Martinez who has expressed strong interest and willingness to be part of the project. The City has adopted environmental regulations as part of a separate project that includes support and technical assistance from USAID. The newly formed Municipal Environmental Action Unit (UGAM) would become a significant player in the project, so that both the UGAM and Proyecto Reverde will help the community to become environmentally sustainable.
Business and Community Participants Wanted
Businesses, community associations, environmental experts, educators, hotels, restaurants and individuals in general who wish to be part of this project and who can provide funds, expertise, experience and resources towards the development and implementation of the project can call José Bourget in English or Spanish at 829-330-0986 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact Edit DeJong in French, German, English or Spanish at 809-836-5541 or email@example.com. In English you may also contact Michael Waldman at 829-665-2913 or firstname.lastname@example.org.