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Photo by: Clayton Louis Ferrara - Winter Park resident Clayton Louis Ferrara learned about sustainability and conservation efforts in Madagascar.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012 6 years ago

Winter Park teams up for conservation

Fundraiser for conservation trip
by: Clayton Louis Ferrara

I had the pleasure of attending the United Nations Conference on Global Sustainability held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, recently. This was my first U.N. conference, and though I consider myself a cultured young man, nothing could have prepared me for a multi-day conference with representatives from more than 190 different countries. It was a wonderful feeling to look around and see so many different people, in such different clothing, speaking so many different languages and to be able to identify myself as an American when asked. I was there as a voice for conservation, representing the NGO I work for called IDEAS For Us and as a young biologist educated at Rollins College. There was a lot to take in, and considering that this conference was the culmination of the last 20 years of sustainable efforts on the parts of the leaders of the world, there was a learning curve when it came to understanding the failures of the last conference in 1992.

Through the panels, plenary sessions and many photographed meetings of presidents and kings I witnessed, I did my best to take in the great diversity of ways that people approach sustainability issues. Sustainability is about creating a good government, it is about protecting natural resources from unregulated destruction, and it is about giving a voice to poor and underprivileged women everywhere. Sustainability is the result of so many people working to make the world a place where humans do not erode upon the rights of our fellow men and women by injustice and environmental destruction. In times when TV, radio and the Internet bombard us everyday with the things going wrong in the world, it is important to remember that everyone can make a difference, and that everyone can help. Very often, people right under your nose are working to make the world a better place.

This November, Winter Park is home base for the efforts of an international team of researchers planning an expedition to help conserve one of the most endangered places on Earth. This humanitarian expedition will be the topic of a public outreach and educational event at the Cornell Museum of Fine Arts at Rollins College, on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. Wine & Cheese for Conservation is aimed at raising funds for an all-volunteer team of renowned scientists to travel to northwest Madagascar in early 2013 to add a parcel of rainforest to an already existing preserve. Of the wildlife found in Madagascar, 90 percent is found nowhere else, and according to the U.N., 200 species go extinct everyday.

The plan is to raise funding for a month-long expedition to northwest Madagascar with the goal of working alongside two villages of indigenous people to conserve their home forest. We want to combine the best sustainability practices of the 21st century concerning energy, water, food, waste and ecology to a conservation project that seeks to maintain indigenous peoples as the rightful stewards of their land. For more information or to RSVP for our educational event, please contact me at 772-486-8280 or [email protected]

Clayton Louis Ferrara is a poet and naturalist living in Winter Park since 2004. He is also a 2009 Rollins alumnus.

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