MiniReservas

Building support for a network of community-based nature reserves

Esperanza Sancho

Age 16, Spain

PROJECT: Building support for a network of community-based nature reserves

Contact Esperanza with questions, suggestions, or to get involved at minireservas@gmail.com.

Growing up in Spain, Esperanza Sancho was captivated by nature and its conservation. Now, she is looking to change the way we think about conservation by empowering community groups to manage and protect small wildlife regions known as MiniReservas.

Sancho’s inspiration came from watching videos and reading up on inspiring activists who have devoted their life’s work to the environment. These individuals included Severn Suzuki, Simon Jackson and Felix Finkbeiner, among others. Their environmental work began at around her age or younger, and they served as an excellent example of service that I think we can all achieve, regardless of age.

“Ever since I was little, I have always been interested in everything relating to nature, whether it be camps or family excursions.” More recently, she has collaborated with Fondo Natural, her father’s organization. Additionally, Sancho and a few friends established the first ecology club at their school. “My current project, MiniReservas, is a natural extension of my previous work, which I hope will inspire the conservation of a wilder world on a much larger scale.”

“To me, a wilder world is one in which all people have a true, conscious appreciation for the environment; a place where people are genuinely interested and captivated by nature; where they nurture mother earth and do everything in their power to maintain its natural beauty. A wilder world is a place where humans are no longer the cause of species extinction, the clear-cutting of forests, or the disappearance of ice caps. Instead, humans in a ‘Wilder World’ actively collaborate to find creative solutions to these problems.”

With her project “MiniReservas”, she hopes to create a web of conservation spaces for wildlife, primarily within cities. The idea is to involve the community by having each ‘MiniReserve’ be adopted and managed by a group of interested individuals, whether it be a single family, a group of neighbors, recreation centers, schools, environmental associations, etc. Each managing group incorporates their own ideas for conserving the MiniReserve, given the space and resources available. Each group will track the natural evolution of the flora and fauna in their ‘MiniReserve’. In this way, people may become more actively engaged in the environment and directly impact conservation efforts. Moreover, a MiniReserve would not require a lot of space; they may range in size from a few meters to up to a hectare. In such a space, each group can plant trees, bushes and flowers that are crucial to the habitats of many insects and small animals. Additionally, they might decide to create nest boxes for birds, or perhaps build a watering hole for amphibians. The beauty of the idea is that when you give an autonomous group the decision making power, they gain a deeper appreciation for nature and the interconnectedness of all life, and invest themselves more fully in the protection of wilderness.

“I would like to remind everyone that if you have a great idea but you have doubt about whether to carry it out, please do not hesitate to do so and share your ingenuity with the world. Please do not think that your idea is not good enough, or that you can put off the idea for a better time. There is no better time than now to act on our environment, because in order to inspire greater change, often times all that is needed is a small, inspired and dedicated push.”

 

Successes
At the moment we are just beginning the project, so our main achievement is the interest the project has created in various environments, especially in young people (which is the sector I have a particular interest in) that want to participate in one way or another. For instance, there are people in my current and former schools interested in MiniReservas and  in the Guide’s group I belong to.

Setting up the Mini-Reservas is being a very stimulating experience, partly for seeing people’s responses.

We are creating a Mini-Reserva in the Ebro Environmental Centre from Zaragoza, where we already have done several activities with groups of youth; one of these activities were carried out with people that were participating in a course of environmental volunteers. At Christmas, in a camp, we experimented with different bird feeders, to see which ones worked best. Also we helped another group of Guides to start their own Mini-Reserva (with the older group, we built an insect hotel, and with the little kids we were exploring a forest, searching for insects, showing them how to recognize them and later we painted the insects on a wall.)

 

Challenges
A great challenge for me is the project’s organization – setting up with all its implications, planning the activities, dividing my time, prioritizing – as well as continuing with my school work and training.

Another challenge is transmitting the passion I have for nature to different groups and people. I want to awaken that caring feeling inside of others to empower and inspire them to go out and look for their own passion.

 

Top 5 Things To Accomplish in 1-2 Years
1. To instigate and help in the creation of six to ten MiniReserves, that later on will function autonomously
2. To create a social group to collaborate with the local project
3. To find a way to support the project materially  and financially
4. To gain support material for the activities to be carried out in the Mini-reserves
5. To gather ideas, knowledge and experiences (for example, through youth exchanges, Facebook, etc.), that may enrich the project.

 

How can others help you accomplish these goals?

  • Help in funding with small donations to specific activities, or materials (aromatic plants, bird houses, etc.).
  • Connect with people or groups that are doing similar activities for the conservation of the nature in cities.
  • Liking my Facebook page and following us on Twitter or Youtube.
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    How can people get involved?
    People can get involved by contributing with their ideas, suggestions and experiences through Facebook, or by volunteering in various activities organized by MiniReservas. For example, there is currently a project in Zaragoze, Spain.  Another way to get involved would be to create a MiniReservas in your own home/community/school.  You can stay connected by also visiting our website:  www.minireservas.blogspot.com.es

     

    Have you had any major accomplishments or accolades that we don’t already have listed?
    I was asked to speak as a part of TedxYouth Madrid. You can view the video here.

     

    Any words of advice or wisdom? Anything else you want to tell the world?
    If you have an idea, a passion, something that you truly like that would make the world a better place, make a start on it and keep at it! Even if it seems hard and difficult at times, it’s really worthy!

     

    Contact Esperanza with questions, suggestions, or to get involved at minireservas@gmail.com.

    Now, she is looking to change the way we think about conservation by empowering community groups to manage and protect small wildlife regions known as MiniReservas.

    “Ever since I was little, I have always been interested in everything relating to nature, whether it be camps or family excursions.”

    “My current project, MiniReservas, is a natural extension of my previous work, which I hope will inspire the conservation of a wilder world on a much larger scale.”