Our Environmental Education Work in Mexico: Oaxaca & Chiapas

With its lush forests, dramatic mountains, pristine cenotes and breathtaking beaches, Mexico is not only beautiful and geographically diverse, it’s home to approximately 10 percent of the world’s plant and animal species—which makes conservation work there particularly critical.

In order to help protect this unique landscape, the Rainforest Alliance education team, as part of the Alianza México REDD+, is working to bring environmental and climate change education to indigenous and rural communities in Oaxaca and Chiapas, Mexico.

"People can be educated about climate change, forests can be replanted and great things can be done in our communities with everyone’s commitment. There is hope."

Chiapas school teacher Brenda Zitlali Cruz González

Currently, we are working with public schools in these two states to ensure that students in the region appreciate the importance of sustainably managing their natural resources. We carefully adapt education case studies to meet the individual needs of our partner regions, providing hands-on, dynamic educational tools that focus on climate change mitigation and foster in students a lifelong commitment to protecting their natural surroundings. Teachers in these communities are often regarded as leaders, which puts them in a strong position to help launch and execute the community education projects.

Chiapas school teacher Brenda Zitlali Cruz González, who participated in one of our teacher trainings, says, “The Rainforest Alliance curriculum was academically enriching, but the most important part was that my students learned the value of caring for their own spaces.” She adds, “People can be educated about climate change, forests can be replanted and great things can be done in our communities with everyone’s commitment. There is hope.”

The Rainforest Alliance has trained close to 300 teachers, reaching over 8,000 students and sharing materials with them. Our partner teachers go above and beyond for their communities, launching action projects to help address these critical environmental concerns.

Environmental Action Projects

Brenda Zitlali Cruz González, teacher

Brenda Zitlali Cruz González

Photo credit: Aurora Muriente Pastrana

Teachers from the community of Montecristo de Guerrero in Chiapas helped integrate our curriculum into their school as a means of inspiring students to care for local ecosystems and forests. Students created gardens with traditional medicinal plants and a tree nursery; they also took steps to make every classroom more environmentally friendly. The school is now planning to reforest an abandoned plot of land in the area, and will continue to take on community conservation and restoration projects.

After assessing local forest issues, teachers and students from the community of San Andrés Solaga in Oaxaca began participating in a community-wide effort to combat the proliferation of bark beetles (Dendroctonus spp), which are destroying local forests. Alongside local municipal authorities and community members, the students and teachers implemented a community action project focused on integrated pest management activities and the reduction of the beetle population. In order to promote forest regeneration, some areas were burned and cleared while approximately 3,000 healthy trees were planted.

Community Education

set for stop-motion film "King Condoy"

Set for stop-motion film "King Condoy"

Photo credit: Maria Lascurain

Following a Rainforest Alliance education workshop, students from Bachillerato Integral Comunitario Ayuujk Polivante, a school in the community of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec, Oaxaca, Mexico, participated in a film workshop hosted by Cornea Films and in collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance. To create a stop-motion animation film about environmental issues in their community, students tackled all aspects of production, from script-writing to set design and construction. The final product, a film narrated in the local indigenous language mixe, addresses the importance of respecting nature and local traditions. Students screened the film in their community before it traveled to the International Rural Film Festival, which show-cased environmental and climate change-themed films across Quintana Roo, Campeche, Yucatán, Chiapas and Oaxaca.

The Rainforest Alliance is part of the Alianza México REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), whose mission is to contribute to the creation of climate knowledge, strengthen capacities to meet the objectives of a national REDD+ strategy and implement rural sustainable development in Mexico. Learn more about our work in Community-based Climate Change & REDD+ Education in Mexico.

People collecting dirty river water

Around the world, 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day.