A thought-provoking insight into the social and environmental issues facing Venezuela’s Margarita Island On her recent visit to the UK, Bibiana Sucre raised awareness about the work that Asociación Civil Provita do to help communities establish sustainable ventures on Venezuela’s Margarita Island. Discussing the social and environmental problems that Provita is helping tackle - from poverty, gender inequality, to the environmental destruction caused by sand mining - Bibiana gave two presentations, one for the Institute for the Study of the Americas in the University of London and the other for University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich.
“Our mission is the conservation of the environment with a focus on endangered species and eco-systems”, said Bibiana, Chacaracual Project Coordinator from the World Land Trust’s project partners, Provita. “We believe we have to do this by combining knowledge from all possible sources; not only natural science but also social science, allowing us to work effectively with local communities.” “Margarita Island is the number one tourism destination of Venezuela, receiving almost three million visitors each year” explained Bibiana, “and the number is always increasing.”
In just 30 years, the island witnessed a fourfold increase in its population and the economy has undergone a major shift, from fishing and agriculture to tourism and commerce. Bibiana said:
“This has, of course, had an impact on the environment and its biodiversity; vegetation cover has been lost to the construction industry, there has been an unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, and bad management of waste.”
Bibiana’s talks gave a real insight into the problems that Margarita Island is facing and the difficulties for Provita in their challenge to protect the island’s wildlife.
Bibiana’s training in the UK
On her visit, Bibiana also met the Taylor family, providing an opportunity to thank supporters of the Venezuela land purchase in person; through the generosity of the Taylor Family Foundation, the World Land Trust (WLT) was able to help Provita secure its first land purchase in 2009. Bibiana was visiting WLT on a study tour and while she was in the UK she was able to visit the Minsmere RSPB Nature Reserve in Suffolk, only a few miles from the WLT’s offices. She also worked alongside WLT staff for several days and attended the December WLT Board meeting where she gave a presentation to Trustees and Council. The WLT feels it is important to provide opportunities for partners to visit the UK as it gives them opportunity to gain valuable skills. During her stay Bibiana completed a course on Proposal Writing at the Directory of Social Change in London and worked with WLT staff to help develop some of her proposals. It was a very worthwhile visit and Bibiana has taken back skills and ideas to help secure further funding for Provita’s projects. She also enjoyed the heavy snowfall – something she had never seen before!
Bibiana's talk is one in a series of lectures from WLT's partner organisations discussing conservation throughout South America. Both the video and the presentation of Bibiana's talk are avaliable to view on the ISA website