Contact: Scott Trageser, Executive Director
CAMERAS FOR CONSERVATION:
Nonprofit Puts Used Cameras And Other Gear To Work For Conservation Ecology
TUCSON, ARIZONA. The Biodiversity Group (TBG), a nonprofit conservation ecology organization, has announced an innovative program that puts used cameras and other equipment to work for promoting the science and art of biodiversity. In this program, TBG accepts donations of all kinds of gear crucial to conservation ecology, from camera bodies and lenses to GPS units and even “snake hooks”. The donated equipment is used by biologists and photographers in the field to document the diversity of life. Some of the gear is used by TBG staff, but many of the recipients of the donated items are residents of impoverished regions in Ecuador, Mexico, and Vietnam.
“Biologists and guides working in poor nations often don’t have the resources they need to work effectively”, said Dr. Paul S. Hamilton, Executive Director of TBG. This program will put cameras and other crucial tools in the hands of those that can use them best, and need them the most. The program works like this: residents of targeted study areas are chosen for their knowledge of ecosystems and abilities to conduct field work. They are then given basic gear like cameras, GPS units, snake hooks, and data sheets, along with training and a research manual. They are also taught the technical skills needed to take photos and field data, and given instructions on how to get their photos and data to biologists who can use them.
Take Carlos Robles, 37, a professional guide and naturalist from Ecuador who has worked with TBG and other organizations for over 10 years. He is documenting the diversity of plants and animals at Cerro Pata de Pajaro Reserve, a rainforest site where at least 14 new species of frog have been discovered in the last few years, but is in imminent danger of being lost to deforestation. Robles makes important finds regularly, but without a proper camera and GPS unit, much of his potentially important data is not effectively recorded. Furthermore, as Robles explained, “we need a GPS unit to map the limits of the reserve” because cattle ranchers are “encroaching and cutting down forests on the reserve boundaries”. Without a way to accurately map the boundaries, the ranchers believe themselves justified in cutting down more and more forest, to the cost of biodiversity.
Put another way, “One of the most important and untapped resources in this region are the human resources.” Says Jerry Toth, Director of Jama Coaque Reserve in Tropical Ecuador. He adds “Training and equipping the people of this region to be field guides and specialists in ecology is not just a nice gesture – it’s a long-term conservation strategy.”
And the timing of the program couldn’t be better, with hundreds of thousands of new cameras and other needed items purchased in the holiday season, there’s a glut of unneeded used gear. Also, any items sent by December 31st will quality for a tax deduction in the U.S. for the fair market value of the item plus shipping.
A list of qualifying items that are particularly needed can be found at TBG’s website, and any donations can be sent to:
The Biodiversity Group
10980 W Rudasill Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85743