As some of you know, I have been involved with the Asociación AVANFUER for a few years now. The association successfully ran the Sodade Turtle Rescue Centre in Morro Jable as well as many other environmentally sound projects on and around Fuerteventura. Their latest venture was this First International Conference for Environmental Volunteers in the Canaries held on the 4th and 5th of November, that saw environmentalists, enthusiasts and volunteers gather together to learn about and discuss ongoing projects in other parts of Spain as well as other islands such as Cape Verde and Isla de Principe.
The support was outstanding and we enjoyed talks from members of other associations in their respective fields update us on their progress and latest achievements. On the first day we learned about how to correctly rescue a beached whale or dolphin in a practical course right on the beach and on the second day, we enjoyed going out to the Presa de Los Molinos (Los Molinos Dam) to observe the birds and other wildlife there. After the rains we’ve had, it was pretty awesome to see the dam so full of water and to be mere spectators in a whole other world where birds of many species gather and peacefully co-exist without any outside interference. We did of course have a bird specialist on hand to provide interesting tidbits on the birds we were observing.
A World of Nature
After our morning walk in nature, we headed to the Puerto del Rosario University for the conference part of the day where as mentioned we received updates on many exciting projects taking place. One of the most interesting aspects of the conference was a talk given by a representative of the Príncipe, Biosphere Reserve with UNESCO. The Isla de Príncipe and Sao Tomas are two islands located off the coast of Africa close to Guinea that boast the most amazing tropical forests. The islands were previously Portuguese colonies but have since become independent. The largest project they are running is a Water and Recycle Program that has turned up outstanding results because it has encouraged locals to recycle plastic water bottles and in return for every 50 bottles they turn in, they receive a reusable water bottle. The island has also seen 13 drinking water fountains installed so the locals happily use their reusable water bottles to fill up on fresh water. The photos shown depicted smiling adults and children alike learning about the importance of recycling and happily participating in a project that will no doubt benefit them for years to come.
A representative from Cape Verde filled us in on the project they have to preserve loggerhead turtles primarily and reeducate locals about the importance of avoiding turtle meat after a law was passed making it illegal to hunt the animals. This association has a joint project with AVANFUER here in Fuerteventura to reintroduce the loggerhead turtle back to the island, a project that is responsible for getting me hooked into the cause in the first place.
Plastic Free Oceans
After a break for lunch, we headed down to Gran Tarajal for the next portion of the day’s events and we all participated in the “Plastic Free Oceans” project. A representative from Gran Canaria and specialist in micro plastics gave a talk about how this threat is seriously affecting our oceans, wildlife and as a result, us, since we eat what they eat. We cleared up plastics from the beach into wooden crates that we stacked up into a tower with flashing lights to attract the attention of those who’d come to watch the WOMAD concert. To see small children take the initiative to collect plastic themselves after seeing our example was amazing. They were so happy to help so that alone was worth the effort.
It really was a beautiful experience and a fantastic opportunity to see so many people come together for such a worthy cause as well as to meet people from different parts of the world and pick their brains a bit about what they do on a daily basis to further their projects and do their part to help the environment. I would definitely encourage all of you to get involved so check out my “Social Causes” page and find out how you too can help out. Every little bit counts!