Only in recent years have the intersections between conservation and gender been studied. Today we had a workshop exploring how women play a role in managing natural resources, and we hiked to Cocococha Lake to see firsthand how conservation efforts in the region have been successful. We discussed the different conservation responsibilities of men and women due to their rights and cultural/social responsibilities, and methods for including women in these efforts (with a focus on gender-integrated projects). We also talked about how gender roles are often overlooked and why conservation efforts that exclude women are unsustainable in the long term.
The highlight of the day was definitely visiting Cocococha Lake. Located in the protected Tambopata National Reserve, the lake has been directly impacted by successful conservation efforts that have included women (via partnerships between ecotourist outfits and local people). Once, animals living around and in the lake were hunted by locals who needed them for food or to provide income. But now, profit-sharing and wildlife monitoring provide economic incentives to locals, and hunting is banned. As a result, the lake’s wildlife is flourishing!
To get to the lake, we left the lodge and took a motor boat up river, then hiked five incredibly muddy kilometers to the lake. Along the way, we crossed thin, wooden bridges, followed the paths of millions of industrious leaf cutter ants, watched squirrel monkeys swinging overhead, and then boarded a large canoe. We had been asked to be quiet so that we wouldn’t disturb the wildlife, and the sounds of water and birds seemed to have a meditative, calming effect on our usually boisterous group of teens and women!