Twenty-six environmental leaders hailing from ten states within Brazil completed the inaugural online training course in Portuguese offered by the Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative (ELTI). The six-week course led to the development of preliminary management plans for forest restoration, which the course participants will implement in diverse sectors across Brazil such as government agencies, NGOs, private companies, academia, and public-private partnerships.
“It was a very enriching experience, considering how much I learned about ecological restoration. I will definitely apply the knowledge gained from the course to our new restoration projects in the city of Maraú,” said Eduardo Bruel Valente Rocha, Coordinator at Ynamata Institute, an NGO which works to promote conservation of the Atlantic Forest in the state of Bahia, Brazil.
The online course, entitled “Introduction to the Ecology and Strategies for Tropical Forest Restoration in Human-Modified Landscapes,” allowed participants to actively engage in live discussion sections with experts and interact with instructors and other participants through online forums. In addition to site visits and literature research conducted at the individual level, feedback from guest experts and peer-to-peer exchange of drafts were essential elements in participants’ work toward their final projects. ELTI will undertake a follow-up of participants to measure and evaluate impacts, including the implementation of the management plans.
“The Web-Based Training Program complements the field training,” said Gillian Bloomfield MFS ‘10, Web-Based Training Program Coordinator at ELTI. “It enhances ELTI as a whole by providing learning opportunities to participants from a broader regional distribution and who require training that can be done simultaneously with their work schedules and life commitments.”
In 2013, ELTI launched its first web-based training program in Spanish. In response to the large number of Brazilian applicants, ELTI decided to offer a Portuguese version of the course this year. Brazilian students at Yale played a crucial role in the course development; various students helped ELTI translate the content into Portuguese, and Matheus Couto, MFS student at Yale F&ES, served as a course facilitator to deliver and manage the course as well as communicate with the participants. The course took place from March 28 – May 5, 2014.
“Learning about restoration protocols and all the related theories allowed me to move forward with our pilot project for dry forests restoration,” said Tathiane Santi Sarcinelli, Senior Environmental Analyst at Fibria Celulose S.A., Espírito Santo, Brazil. “Moreover, I could share my professional experience and discuss challenges with the participants who work in the same field.”
ELTI, an initiative founded in 2006 by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES) that works in collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, has provided environmental management and leadership capacity building programs for environmental leaders in the Neotropics and tropical Asia. An English version of this online course is being developed to provide a similar opportunity for potential participants in tropical Asia.
By So Yoon Sim