By Cesar Garcia Valderrama
Terra Peninsular Urban Conservation Coordinator
When we hear about conservation many times we might get the impression that we are trying to preserve some pristine and isolated place. Somewhere forgotten by "civilization", and quite far away from our daily lives. And we might imagine a tropical jungle in some exotic country in the world. These places surely are important and unique in the great scheme of things. But they will continue to remain far away from our day to day. Around us, our urban communities are far from these idyllic places and surely opposite to their beauty and elegance. In our immediate areas we have been unable to find solutions to our problems of urbanism and scarcity of open spaces. Yet in our own cities we have spaces that still conserve that purity or at least in a substantial way. Buried deep in our urban centers, under sheetrock and concrete lie hidden green jewels. Waiting to be rediscovered. But more than something that has been lost or that is a remnant (which makes it even more endangered), symbolically and perceptibly, these spaces could be the anchors that tie down our communities to return to contact with the natural world.
It's why Terra Peninsular is actively organizing communities for the conservation of urban reserves, of which we will write at a later date, but that surely exist in all of the cities of the Mexican tip of the California Floristic Province. And it is here where we are trying not only to preserve some plant community or particular habitat, but we are building bridges with the communities, empowering them to rescue and preserve this natural heritage.
Observing aphids on a Asclepia, host plant of the Monarch Butterfly at Cuauhtemoc Preeschool, Tijuana. Photo by Cesar Garcia
In this manner, creating community activism based on their own communities. Creating the organizational skills and schemes necessary to protect spaces and places that might have been enveloped by urban sprawl, but that deserve to be protected.
The best way to create solid social structures for conservation without a doubt is education. Which is why Terra Peninsular and Nativ@s run educational programs in public and private schools of different levels, planting demonstration Baja California native plant gardens and sharing educational resources to teachers and the educational community at large to better understand our surroundings. Getting new generations close to their natural heritage thru scientific knowledge of the flora and fauna of their region and raising awareness while being in contact with nature, this will not only help us understand and appreciate the beauty of these great spaces that (although still imperiled) remain and are striving to preserve. But will also encourage new generations of conservationists or environmental professionals.
The idea of rewilding our communities is important and should be pursued. Scientific studies demonstrate that human beings develop (psychically, physically and emotionally) better when in contact with the natural world in any stage of growth. And so, physically our communities and cities would be more harmonious if we incorporate and rehabilitate these wild spaces that our cities need so much.
As human beings we belong to nature, and although our modern civilization seems to have veered somewhat off course, to better our stay on this Earth, we must return to that natural world.