Telma Paredes, 36, works at the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment and has just completed her Master's thesis on the governance of natural area heritage in continental Ecuador. She works hard for the protection and good governance of her country's protected areas.
When and how did you realise that you wanted to work in nature conservation?
My work in conservation started after my studies in the Ecological Reserve El Angel (in Northern Ecuador). As a biologist my research focused on the ‘páramo de frailejones’ lichens, a water regulator, and very important for the local population. Later on - in the same area - I started my work on management plans and training of community park rangers with the NGO Corporation Randi Randi Group, since protected area conservation has always been a part of my studies.
How did you decide on your thesis topic?
My work at the Ministry of the Environment allowed me to discover the reality of many protected areas and understand the importance of conservation costs and benefits for local populations. If these are fair and equitable they undoubtedly have a positive link with the governance carried out in these conservation spaces. This is how I identified the need to carry out an analysis and evaluation of the protected area governance and its quality.
What has been the most exciting moment in your career so far?
There have been many exciting moments, and all have made me understand that conservation work makes a real difference. I was thrilled that, with our support, community park rangers completed courses on local development and fire prevention endorsed by higher level institutions, whereas previously - because they only attended primary school - they were not allowed to access such courses.
Another important time was that my master's thesis on Education and Social Development served as the basis for the ranger training program, under the competencies approach that is currently being developed in the country. Finally, I was delighted to see that WAO chocolate has been processed and marketed, knowing that it came from the plants that were planted with the contribution of one of the projects I worked with in Waorani communities years ago.
What is your favorite place in nature? What natural place do you go to relax, when you need it?
Choosing a favorite natural spot in Ecuador is impossible! Each ecosystem harbors an unparalleled beauty: from the dry forest on the coast or the humid tropical forest in the Amazon, to the moors, passing through the cloud forests: all spaces renew energy and inspire, and even more so for those who work in co
nservation. However my favourite destination is the Galapagos Islands: for a biologist this place undoubtedly represents the reencounter with Darwin and his research.
What are your priorities now?
My priority now is to get funding to improve the quality of protected area governance in Ecuador. I also wish to continue the activities related to the management of the National System of Protected Areas in order to achieve better management effectiveness standards.
Do you have a message for the world?
My message to the world is to maintain hope: every action, however small, has an effect. No matter what age or power we have, our work is a contribution to the conservation of nature.
Telma Paredes holds a Bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences from the Central University of Ecuador, a Master's degree in Education and Social Development from the Equinoctial Technological University, and a Master's Degree in Conservation Biology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador.
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