Background: Communities living in the Lacandonia Tropical Rainforest are aware of the extinction of species within their habitats but usually their only choice to survive is to exploit those natural resources. The endemic richness in the rainforest arose the interest of Mexican biologists, who decided to promote conservation engaging local people in the process. The discovery of a very special flower plant, Lacandonia schismatica, brought international interest towards this area. Scientists, tourists and naturalists travel to this site to study this plant and other natural resources. Local people were trained as guides by Mexican ecologists from the National University. These guides fulfill two main tasks: to provide the public with interesting information about the habitat and to provide the scientific community with important information about the population of endangered species.

Objective: To provide local communities with scientific knowledge and organized activities that can be used to learn and to earn money for their families. Methods: Scientists and local authorities worked together and shared their knowledge about the rainforest. Several social issues were taken into account to develop a strategy for the rainforest conservation. Local volunteers were trained as guides by biologists. Universum Science Museum developed a museological framework for activities and a museum.

Results: A local science museum was built in the area and it is coordinated by the local communities. The museum is located in a highly touristic area and it provides local people with extra means to survive.

Conclusions: Joint efforts that operate from a scientific perspective with a local input become an interesting and successful procedure to empower local communities.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Museums as enhancers for local scientific knowledge

Maria Beyer   Museology, Museo Universun, Circuito Cultural

Background: Communities living in the Lacandonia Tropical Rainforest are aware of the extinction of species within their habitats but usually their only choice to survive is to exploit those natural resources. The endemic richness in the rainforest arose the interest of Mexican biologists, who decided to promote conservation engaging local people in the process. The discovery of a very special flower plant, Lacandonia schismatica, brought international interest towards this area. Scientists, tourists and naturalists travel to this site to study this plant and other natural resources. Local people were trained as guides by Mexican ecologists from the National University. These guides fulfill two main tasks: to provide the public with interesting information about the habitat and to provide the scientific community with important information about the population of endangered species.

Objective: To provide local communities with scientific knowledge and organized activities that can be used to learn and to earn money for their families. Methods: Scientists and local authorities worked together and shared their knowledge about the rainforest. Several social issues were taken into account to develop a strategy for the rainforest conservation. Local volunteers were trained as guides by biologists. Universum Science Museum developed a museological framework for activities and a museum.

Results: A local science museum was built in the area and it is coordinated by the local communities. The museum is located in a highly touristic area and it provides local people with extra means to survive.

Conclusions: Joint efforts that operate from a scientific perspective with a local input become an interesting and successful procedure to empower local communities.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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