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.

Image iconWAR_4-300x200_2.jpgThe 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.”

Image iconLacDuong-4-300x201_2.jpgMs. 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: https://www.facebook.com/groups/VEEN2015/.

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.

Image iconKBTTN-VH-Dong-Nai-3-300x201_2.jpgFrom January to February 2016, with a total budget of roughly $670 USD, the education team at DNCNR has successfully developed an attractive poster, sized 40x60 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:
http://www.wildlifeatrisk.org/new/album/380/distributing-posters-and-communications-on-wildlife-protection-at-dong-nai-culture-and-nature-reserve/
http://www.wildlifeatrisk.org/new/album/379/mobile-exhibition-on-conservation-of-bidoup-nui-ba-national-park/
http://www.wildlifeatrisk.org/new/album/381/develop-and-premiere-a-short-film-on-wildlife-protection-at-bu-gia-map-national-park/