Beahrs ELP Blog

Increasing capacities on environmental education for national parks and protected areas

by Huyen Do Thi Thanh (ELP 2014), Vietnam

Wildlife At Risk (WAR), cooperating with Dong Nai Culture Nature Reserve, organized a training course entitled “Environmental Educations for National Parks and Protected Areas of Vietnam” that lasted for six days from October 5th to 10th, 2015. The state-of-the-art training course aimed to raise the capacity of environmental educators on educating teachers and students, tourists, local communities, leaders and the public in general on nature conservation. The course provided a great forum for sharing environmental education (EE) experiences among National Parks (NP) and Protected Areas (PA). In addition, the training course provided financial support to three participants to implement their excellent EE initiatives at their NPs and PAs. The training course was funded by the Buck Kingman Initiative from the College of Natural Resources at the University of California, Berkeley.

Nearly 30 environmental educators from 20 NPs and PAs in the South and Central Highland of Vietnam participated in the training course. All of them had at least three years of experience on EE. Some of them held high positions in their NPs or PAs.

The training course was designed and delivered by Ms. Huyen Do Thi Thanh, WAR’s Wildlife Education Manager and ELP 2014 alum, and Ms. Susan Lynn Carpenter, a private consultant who has been working with the Beahrs ELP for 16 years. The trainers have rich experience in training on EE, leadership and environment mediation. Ms. Susan Carpenter voluntarily participated in the design and delivery of this training course.

WAR_4The training program was carefully developed to meet specific needs of environmental educators from NPs and PAs in Vietnam. With the learner centered approach, the training course included a series of creative and active learning activities that encouraged participation from every participant. A few study tours and field trips were also included to compound the experience, such as the study tour to Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station and Cu Chi Tunnel for participants to learn about EE for tourists and endangered wildlife rescuing activities. At the Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve where the training course was organized, the participants took part in a field trip to the forest to learn about EE for students and tourists, joined a community club to learn how to organize EE for local people and visited EE activities for secondary school students. One highlight of the training course was the collaborative leadership content that helped participants to become more effective leaders when coming back to their NPs and PAs.

Right after the course ended, the three best small projects with a total budget of up to approximately $2,500 USD were awarded to three NPs and PAs in order to educate children, teachers, local people and tourists on nature conservation.

According to Mr. Tran Van Mui, Director of the Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve, “Environmental Education is one important function of every NPs and PAs in Vietnam. Currently, EE is implemented in quite a few NPs and PAs. However, there are not many opportunities for Environmental Educators from NPs and PAs to learn and share their experiences such as this training course. We expect that EE experience sharing will be continued way after the course ended.”

LacDuong (4)Ms. Huyen Do Thi Thanh, WAR’s Wildlife Education Manager, confirmed that “Currently, there is almost no official EE course in Vietnam. All EE staff learn about EE through their jobs. This training course is a special opportunity to hand on experiences, skills and tools in order to improve effectiveness of EE in NPs and PAs in Vietnam. We expect that every people who work on EE will be connected in order to be more effective in their EE works and thus contribute greater to the nature of Vietnam.”

“This training course is especially useful and practical. Everyone who works on EE in Vietnam should participate. I’ve come up with quite a few new ideas those I will definitely apply to my jobs,” shared Ms. Tang Thi Thu Huong, Deputy Manager of the Centre on Environment Education Communication and Ecotourism – Binh Chau Phuoc Buu Nature Reserve and a participant of the training course.

As a result of the training course, the Vietnam Environmental Education Network (VEEN) was established to create an official forum for the course’s participants to continuously share their experiences. Active right after the training course ended, the VEEN is chaired by Ms. Huyen Do Thi Thanh and supported by a committee comprising of nine members from different NPs and PAs. Currently, the VEEN is actively open on Facebook at:

The three best EE projects were selected out of 15 proposals submitted by the course’s participants to be funded by the course through the support of WAR and the Buck Kingman Initiative from the College of Natural Resources at the University of California, Berkeley. The three projects are (1) Developing and distributing of a wildlife protection poster for local people at DNCNR, (2) Developing and operating a mobile exhibition for secondary school children of Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, and (3) Developing and premiering a wildlife protection film for local people and students of Bu Gia Map National Park.

KBTTN-VH Dong Nai (3)From January to February 2016, with a total budget of roughly $670 USD, the education team at DNCNR has successfully developed an attractive poster, sized 40×60 cm on some endangered wildlife that are often hunted. Five hundred copies of the poster were successfully distributed to 500 local households from four communes in the buffer zone of the nature reserve, through local people’s Green Clubs’ meetings.

From February to April 2016, the education team at Bidoup Nui Ba National Park in the central highland of Vietnam has successfully developed an economic and attractive mobile exhibition for children aged 12-15 years old. By participating in the exhibition for roughly 45 minutes, the children can learn about Bidoup Nui Ba National Park through practical information, beautiful photos, exciting games, quizzes and films, and get ready to protect the nature. The exhibition has been participated by 910 children from five secondary schools in the bufferzone of Bidoup Nui Ba National Park. The project got a total fund of approximately $606 USD.

From March to May 2016, the education team at Bu Gia Map National Park has successfully developed a ten-minute film on wildlife law and organized four premieres to two local people’s groups and two children’s groups. The film, which is about three different actual wildlife criminal cases in Bu Gia Map National Park, aims to educate people about wildlife’s law and urge them not to break it. Approximately 100 adults and 300 children aged from 9 to 15 years old excitingly participated in wildlife games at the premieres. They also paid full attention to the film. Approximately $637 USD was funded to the project.

All three projects were closely monitored and advised by Ms. Huyen Do Thi Thanh and other WAR staff in order to help the course’s participants improve their skills on conducting EE activities at their Parks.

WAR will also seek for financial support in order to conduct similar training courses for other NPs and PAs in Vietnam.

More photos and information about the three funded EE projects could be found here:

Back to UC Berkeley’s Beahrs ELP: a step further to avoid knowledge waste and consolidate environmental leadership networking

by Dr. Noureddin Driouech (ELP 2012), Italy

1I first experienced the UC Berkeley system in 2006, under the framework of my PhD studies, as a visiting scholar/researcher in the Department of Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management (ESPM). I carried out research and experiments on cover crops and agroecology under Mediterranean cropping systems with Professor Miguel Altieri and on physiological plant ecology and stable isotope biogeochemistry (15N) of self-reseeding legumes with Prof. Todd Dawson.

Five years later, in the summer of 2011, I had the chance to visit the UC Berkeley campus and meet with the Cal Alumni Association team. While discussing Alumni Networking with CAA leaders and R. Tucker Coop (former CAA executive director), I learned about the ELP program which is organized by the College of Natural Resources. Thanks to Robin Marsh’s (former co-director of ELP) presentation and illustration, the ELP appealed to me because unlike most summer training programs, there was a very strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research and cross-cutting science on environmental and natural resources management. Effectively, while participating in ELP 2012, I had hands-on experience that the program provides extensive knowledge and experiences in a number of disciplines (e.g. Policies for sustainable development, Leadership for collaborative change, Impact assessment and quantitative analysis, Mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, etc.) that are critical to environmental management success.

2Furthermore, my experience with the ELP program has resulted in career advancement to a highly responsible and technically challenging position. The caliber of fellow and worldwide participants in the program far exceeded my expectations. The program was a great platform gathering representatives of international institutions, organizations, academia, universities, agencies and NGOs. Faculty, researchers, agronomists, agri-food experts, forestry and wildlife biologists, conservation scientists, policy makers, managers, executive directors, economists and social scientists, practitioners, entrepreneurs and almost every other discipline in-between, come together to create an eclectic group that yields thought-provoking discussions, debate and an incredible network of colleagues and genuine friends.

4In addition, during the ELP 2012 activities, I enjoyed how the training program, covered and animated by various imminent UCB faculty and non-academia experts, focused on practical, real world environmental management and policy applications. My various interactions and discussions with many great and environmental-experienced worldwide people have helped me acquire leadership skills in Sustainable Environmental Management and provided me with an abundance of networking opportunities, opening doors for me in higher circles. In fact, under the UC Global Engagement with International Institutions and Partners, in October 2012 CIHEAM-IAM of Bari and UC Berkeley signed a convention recognizing the value of educational, cultural, and scientific exchange between international research institutions.

Going back to the ELP program in 2016 is considered as a follow-up initiative for my collaboration with UCB ELP and as an Alumnus. Actually during the last 4 years, I kept a fruitful connection with the ELP team by promoting the ELP program within the Mediterranean Alumni Network (FTN) that I am coordinating, and within my organization’s professional circuit. I also facilitate some ELP recruits and share useful info and knowledge (e.g. Call for Projects, Call for Conferences and Workshop, Job opportunities. etc.) within the ELP Alumni Network and community.

Additionally, partaking in the ELP 2016 could be a good opportunity to communicate and share with the new ELP cohort about my work experience and the actions/activities of my organization in terms of education/training, applied research and cooperation in the field of sustainable agriculture, rural development and food security in the Mediterranean region.

In return, I am expecting to consolidate and strengthen the on-going collaboration between my organization CIHEAM, UCB and the ELP program, and also to pave the way to establish an ELP satellite in the Mediterranean region. These may include:

  • Joint educational, cultural and research activities
  • Exchange of faculty, graduate students (MSc and PhD) and postdoctoral studies
  • Participation in seminars, workshops and academic meetings
  • Exchange of academic materials, publications and other information
  • Special short term program and visits

Finally the ELP program is definitely worth the time invested for those who are interested in promoting synergies for sustainable and environmental development between research communities and building cooperative programs based on multidisciplinary knowledge. Along with that comes an increased sense of self-esteem and a feeling of accomplishment and personal satisfaction.

Debate on Sustainable Development, Agriculture and GMOs with Prof. Miguel Altieri, Prof. David Zilberman (UCB) and Dr. Sarah Sherr (EcoAgriculture partners):

My Team working on a collaborative approach exercise, stakeholders analysis and conflicts management with Susan Carpenter (*from left to right Maité Arrien (Bolivia), me Noureddin Driouech (Morocco in Italy), Daniel Mumuni (Ghana), Mekdes Ijigu Asefa (Ethiopia) Hendra Yusran Siry (Indonesia), Mohamed Hama Garba (Niger in Senegal), Juliet Dima (Keyna), Umaru Farouk Bubiure (Ghana):

With ELP-er Juliet Dima (Keyna):

With ELP-er Angelina Davydova (Russia):

During the ELP 2012 opening ceremony with the Dean of the College of Natural Resources, Dean J. Keith Gilless:

During the ELP 2012 opening ceremony with UCB Cancellor Robert J. Birgeneau (Right ), Grace Modupe Adebo (left), and Alain Mathaukot Bayonne:

Family picture ELP 2012:

America’s legacy in its second term as facilitator of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership

by Denis Sonwa (ELP 2010), Cameroon

As leadership transfers from the US to the EU, what lies ahead for the Congo Basin Forest Partnership?

In addition to being an important vehicle for forest management in Central Africa, the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) also holsters local capacity-building. (photo credit: Oliver Girard)

In addition to being an important vehicle for forest management in Central Africa, the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) also holsters local capacity-building. (photo credit: Oliver Girard)

During the first term of the U.S. leadership of the newly created Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP) from 2003 to 2005, the foundations were set for the institutions to play an important role in the management of forests and natural resources in Central Africa.

Established by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Johannesburg in 2002, the CBFP has worked for more than a decade to create strong institutions and policies in Central Africa in order to address climate change impacts and threats to biodiversity.

The focus during America’s second term leading the CBFP from 2013 to 2015 was to address governance challenges, emerging threats and strategic new alliances amid a shifting global agenda.

Global concerns and agreements are continuing to shape the management of natural resources in Central Africa. This includes the move from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the landmark United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, and the realization of the Aichi Declaration of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

It is in such a context that the U.S.-led CBFP provided objectives in March 2013 to support: 1) clear and concerted African leadership, 2) actions to address critical threats to biodiversity and forests, 3) full participation in efforts to adapt to and combat climate change, and 4) effective institutions, regulatory regimes and governance to address forests and wildlife.

The July 2015 CBFP Conference of Partners in Yaoundé was an opportunity to revisit these objectives and looked to the future of sustainable forest and natural resources management in Central Africa.

Academic success

In order to enhance leadership in Central Africa, one achievement has been the creation of the CBFP Academic Consortium, a network that links international universities (mainly American, but poised to grow quickly) to local universities and other institutions in the region, with the goal to support research and capacity building. This move supports the Network of Environmental and Forest Training Institutions in Central Africa (RIFEEAC), which has been a critical platform under the management of the late Dr. Ibrahim Sambo.

For the past two years, CIFOR has continued capacity building in post-conflict context through the Master’s and Ph.D. programs to elevate research institutions and universities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). During this time, the University of California, Los Angeles completed an important milestone by creating the Congo Basin Institute (CBI) housed at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Yaoundé-Cameroon. The CBI will train Africans and Americans in multidisciplinary research and offer access to world-class facilities. To consolidate the region’s research agenda, CIFOR has started to bring together the Research institutions that will need to work closely with RIFEEAC.

With the aim of capacity building, the academic consortium is expected to increase its focus beyond biodiversity conservation and to recruit academic institutions from Europe and Asia. The post-conflict research and university support process initiated by CIFOR in DRC needs to be extended to the Central African Republic, and the consideration given to youth at the regional level needs to be expanded to the national and sub-national levels.

A recent CIFOR study shows that youth at the local level are often not consulted during governance planning and decision-making processes. In addition, African leadership needs to broaden its considerations beyond biodiversity conservation to consider the recently agreed upon SDGs.

Looming large

Overcoming threats to biodiversity and forests is the primary aim of the CBFP. In addition to the well-established threats from agriculture and poaching, illegal trans-boundary wildlife trafficking is linked to other security issues, and has emerged as a compelling new threat. Moving beyond the traditional protected areas network, the U.S. is supporting the extension of the Wildlife Enforcement Network (WCN) from the horn of Africa to the heart of the continent.

The region hosted an international conference on the illegal exploitation and trade in African Wildlife in Brazzaville where these issues were discussed with leaders from across the continent. The idea of trust funds was presented during the 15th CBFP conference of partners in Yaoundé as a potential option to sustain biodiversity conservation. And, CIFOR continues to support research findings on bushmeat, moving the problem from a wildlife conservation issue to one of food security in order to assure protein for local communities living within forest landscapes. Conflict and post conflict situations prevailing in certain parts of the heart of Africa will continue to fuel the threats to biodiversity and forests.

We must find solutions to these crises. Increasing research attention on zoonosis such as Ebola needs to happen. Sustaining the livelihoods of smallholders living in forest landscapes also needs to be part of the solution to protecting biodiversity and forests.

Expanding the scope of the CBFP

Since the first U.S. facilitation of the CBFP in the early 2000s, attention to climate change has increased. In 2009, through the Global Climate Change initiative, the U.S. signaled its interest in helping African countries prepare for extreme weather and climate events, develop clean and affordable systems and reduce deforestation in the Congo Basin and elsewhere in Africa.

Since President Barack Obama’s object of reducing deforestation dovetailed with biodiversity protection, the U.S. has been supporting the Central Africa Regional Program for the Environment (CARPE) as well as the Central African Satellite Forest Observatory (OSFAC) as vehicles to address the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) agenda in the region. Assessing and protecting forest habitats and resources have thus gained more importance in the CARPE and OSFAC initiatives.

REDD+ responses in the region have hence been mainly on some pilot projects but also on MRV (Monitoring Reporting and Verification) process. CIFOR established the first GHG (Green House Gaze) lab in Central Africa. Partners of the CBFP Support countries of COMIFAC in developing their INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) in the perspective of UNFCCC COP 21 of Paris. Adaptation to climate change did not meet the same donor attention as REDD+. Nevertheless, adaptation is now part of the 10 years convergence plan of COMIFAC.

Focusing on institutional effectiveness has resulted in the revitalization of key groups within the Central Africa Forests Commission (COMIFAC). New private sector and agricultural institutions have joined the CBFP since 2013, and the ten-year convergence plan (2015-2025) has been published. The State of the Forest Report 2013 was published with key findings on emerging threats, and a specialized state of the forest report on protected areas was released in 2015.

The emphasis on highlighting local leaders is an innovation that all partners can benefit from, and will hopefully strengthen the coordination and resolve of the Conference on Dense and Humid Forest Ecosystems of Central Africa (CEFDHAC) to continue to play a key role in local governance of forest resources.

Expecting that CBFP will continue to strengthen COMIFAC and its constituencies (including its technical groups and platforms), it is hoped that coverage will be expanded to topics such as livelihoods, agriculture, capacity building, water and energy in the forest landscapes of Central Africa.

In July 2015, when the announcement was made regarding the transition of CBFP’s leadership to the European Union (EU), it was clear that the second term of U.S. facilitation spurred new actions and pathways.

In 2016, the EU have the challenge of defining a new road map for the CBFP, which is eagerly awaited by all partners.

Sustainability: Reshaping the Future Transportation Design and Construction

by Salem Afeworki (ELP 2014), Chile (in USA)

Applying sustainability in infrastructure projects is the most important yet the least understood concern of our time. In the United States, transportation is the second-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after buildings and it is clear that the impact of climate change will bring more stresses on infrastructure in the near future.

For businesses and governments, sustainability ought to be more than just an ethical pursuit – it helps entities save money, increase profitability, while enhancing their reputation and allowing future risk mitigation. Various tools and third party rating systems are being developed to measure and implement sustainability at the project level. Port authorities, transportation agencies and airports in the United States are now adopting sustainability-rating tools for their infrastructure projects and are requesting “out of the box” sustainable solutions from their consultants on their project execution.

CaptureOne of the sustainable design tools for infrastructure projects is ENVISIONTM rating system. Envision measures the sustainability of an infrastructure project from design though construction and maintenance. Design teams and project owners use it to set and achieve sustainability goals, adopt and implement effectively sustainable choices, and help set standards for others to follow. The ratings system is administered by the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure, which was founded by three national engineering associations: the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), and American Public Works Association (APWA), and the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

1Currently our team at PacRim is the prime contractor and Sustainable Design Lead at Port of Long Beach Terminal Island Wye Track Realignment Project developing the Sustainability Management Plan for the project using Envision Sustainability Design Guideline. This is the Port’s first major sustainability undertaking at the Port-wide effort, and pursuing to get the project Envision certified. This tool will also allow the Port to measure and follow up on sustainability goals on the construction and Operation and Maintenance (O&M) phases of the project. It will assess costs and benefits over the project lifecycle, evaluate environmental and social impact of the project and develop outcome-based and measureable objectives that will allow the Port to reach the highest levels of sustainability achievements and build its brand as the Sustainable Green Port.

As we slowly incorporate sustainability in our civil engineering projects and work towards economic growth and better connectivity – it is important to know what industry tools already exist to facilitate the integration and constantly educate our leaders about the value that sustainability brings to profitability and business continuity.

Malnutrition: an endless battle in Madagascar

by Hervet Randriamady (ELP 2015), Madagascar

Malnutrition has always been a major public health concern in Madagascar. This month (May 2016), the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted it during his speech to the members of the Malagasy parliament. He commented on how, alarmingly, malnutrition costs the country more than a billion and a half dollars each year – while also saying that “the human toll is immeasurable”. According to the World Food Program, Madagascar is ranked fourth worldwide for having the highest rate of chronic malnutrition, which impacts roughly 50% of all children under five.

Antandroy kids from  the deep South of Madagascar in 2014 (Photo credit Hervet Randriamady)

Antandroy kids from the deep South of Madagascar in 2014 (Photo credit Hervet Randriamady)

The first time I was aware of the magnitude of malnutrition was in the 1990s when a famine occurred in the far South of Madagascar. The government back then, led by the President Zafy Albert, organized a grand telethon “SOS Sud” to rescue those people starving to death. I vividly remember the hoard of trucks, full of food from Antananarivo, passing by our house in Antsirabe before making their way on the 1,000 km journey to the deep South. The population of Antsirabe enthusiastically welcomed the heroic delegation. The word kere, which means famine, reverberated repeatedly throughout the speech the president made at Independence Square in Antsirabe. The battle against malnutrition seemed to be on, and seemed to be winnable.

Unfortunately, to date, Madagascar has not escaped the grip of malnutrition. First, mother nature has made the matter worse, with the deep South experiencing frequent droughts for many decades. Rainfall is seen as a blessing; hunger as the penalty for when it stops. Just a couple months ago, some people from that same area died from severe malnutrition. Members of the government including the current President Hery Rajaonarimampianina rushed to the South to assist the victims.

Antandroy woman using an umbrella due to the unbearable heat in the deep South of Madagascar in 2014  (Photo creditHervet Randriamady)

Antandroy woman using an umbrella due to the unbearable heat in the deep South of Madagascar in 2014 (Photo creditHervet Randriamady)

And although the most severe cases of malnutrition are found in the deep South, it exists ubiquitously across the country. Malnutrition is crippling for the development of the region and the country as a whole.

With my new position as an Assistant Research Manager on a new research program directed by the Planetary Health Alliance (PHA) at Harvard University, my colleagues and I hope to shed light on how malnutrition is a primary root cause of poor health in Madagascar. More broadly, the research program will focus on understanding how nutrition impacts the incidence of infectious and non-communicable diseases, and how climate change could affect these two relationships. Put another way, a lack of adequate nutrition and a changing climate could make communities more vulnerable to some diseases. We want to better understand how this happens and highlight the need for a broader approach to our thinking of malnutrition, disease, and climate. I will be working with Christopher Golden, the Associate Director of PHA and Research Scientist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for the second time and with Benjamin Rice from the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard University, who is the Health Programs Director of PHA in Madagascar. The research project is in collaboration with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Princeton University. The research is innovative as multiple academic areas are involved to address malnutrition such as economics, medicine, evolutionary biology and environment. By encompassing these fields of study, it is the quintessential sustainable development concept that I learned from the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) at UC Berkeley in 2015.

What I have learned from ELP will be critical for the success of the research. ELP has equipped me with the right training. Having been trained as an agricultural economist to address malnutrition, my knowledge was theoretically restricted to a narrow-view of the venerated economic law of supply and demand. With this new research I will get more understanding of malnutrition in Madagascar. In short, I hope that malnutrition will be a myth for the next generation of Malagasy people and I look forward to working on this project as it aims to move us closer to that goal.

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