By Liz Moody
The next stop on the Pathfinders’ itinerary is Minca, Colombia. This small town, which is trying to grow a tourism industry following years of armed conflict, is nestled in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest coastal mountain range in the world. These mountains are home to a complex network of ecosystems, and the Pathfinders will be working with Misión Gaia to promote sustainable development here.
Misión Gaia develops educational, cultural, and environmental programs in rural communities in the area, with an eye on supporting a sustainable environment and preserving natural resources. This includes everything from offering courses in conservation tourism for local youths to running spay/neuter programs for domesticated animals to control their impact on the ecosystem. Misión Gaia recognizes that educating people and supporting environmentally conscious tourism fulfills the symbiotic goals of improving quality of life for local communities and fostering respect for nature. It is ultimately about empowering people to better care for themselves and their environment: helping people acquire the tools to “build capacity to improve management of natural and cultural heritage.”
Specific projects the Pathfinders will be working on include:
- conducting a feasibility study for the design and implementation of a local farmers’ market
- educating residents and local businesses about the management of organic waste
- preparing seedbeds, compost areas, and instruct local farmers in the use of organic fertilizers and biological pest control supplies
- constructing pit latrines and dry composting latrines
- strengthening educational programs
You can learn more about the Pathfinders’ current project and support their work with Misión Gaia here.