In my lectures and conversations, I am often asked for signs of hope in the face of the global challenges and devastation of our time. Dr. Jane Goodall’s work in over 100 villages in several African countries gives me hope. Dr. Goodall, as she has done her entire career, also opens up new paradigms and language for thinking about the changes we need to make and embody.
Jane Goodall’s new book about her conservation efforts in Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and other parts of Africa contains a blueprint for hope. The Tacare Project brilliantly envisions conservation which protects people, environment, and animals. The Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) combines design thinking with geographic data, such as maps and aerial images to foster conservation efforts. By addressing all aspects of geography— from cultural, biological, and physical aspects – JGI promotes the needs of people, ecosystems, and animals.
For too long environmental and development efforts have ignored the interconnectedness of people and ecosystems. Jane Goodall is a boundary spanner – she weaves together many worlds – promoting literacy, livelihoods, and health to strengthen communities so that people and animals can coexist. Jane and her team address the root causes of poverty that often lead to environmental degradation: lack of opportunity and lack of education. The Institute promotes women by providing microcredit, scholarships for girls, and family planning. In her work, she encourages us to consider ways in which we can become boundary spanners.
Jane and her team at the Jane Goodall Institute provide a vision for conservation work – and powerful new language and ideas. Tacare means to “take care” but is also an acronym for the Lake Tanganyka Catchment Reforestation and Education Program. Jane and her team realized that most chimpanzees do not live in the protected forests, but rather in the woods around the villages. Therefore, their survival depends entirely on cooperating with villages. The Jane Goodall Institute has helped to create green corridors which allow the chimpanzees to move freely between areas. Without these corridors providing contiguous access to forests, chimpanzees cannot breed and survive.
Geospatial mapping provides a critical component of the Tacare Project. With support from USAID, the Institute has trained volunteers from the villages to monitor phone data sent to the Cloud which is then monitored by the JGI team. Villagers are part of the mapping efforts. Community mapping identifies the relationships, needs, and resources so that conservation is a collective process. By combining Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with community mapping, and local knowledge and culture, the Tacare Project creates models for how to conserve our future.
The Tacare Project inspires me to hope and offers so many lessons to emulate. How can we integrate people and planet in new ways? How can we deploy technology to address basic needs and create social impact?
This blog post is based on the book: Local Voices, Local Choices: The Tacare Approach to Community-Led Conservation, by the Jane Goodall Institute. Photo credit: Jane Goodall Institute