Education: Planting Seeds of Climate Resilience in Chiapas

The second most ecologically diverse state in all of Mexico, Chiapas boasts 1,400 tree species and wildly varied terrain, ranging from coastlines to mountains more than 13,000 feet high. Today, severe deforestation threatens many of the state’s most precious ecosystems, and rural communities must contend with mudslides, species extinctions and the destabilization of micro-climates.

Brenda Zitlali Cruz González, teacher

Brenda Zitlali Cruz González

Photo credit: Aurora Muriente Pastrana

The Rainforest Alliance is working with educators in rural Chiapas to spread awareness of the harmful impacts of deforestation and teach climate resilience. We train teachers throughout Chiapas and Oaxaca to teach our extensive climate curriculum, which covers the carbon cycle, vegetation types and forest degradation. The curriculum also provides the tools teachers need to guide students in hands-on activities, such as measuring the carbon stored in trees.

In the coffee farming community of Montecristo de Guerrero, on the edge of the forests of the Sierra Madre, teacher Brenda Zitlali Cruz González and her colleagues have led their students in the creation of a tree nursery and gardens filled with traditional medicinal plants. The work has not only educated the students, but also served to change the culture of the school.

"The Rainforest Alliance curriculum was academically enriching, but the most valuable part was that my students learned the human value of caring for their own spaces."

Brenda Zitlali Cruz González, Teacher
Telebachillerato #37, Montecristo de Guerrero, Chiapas, Mexico

“The Rainforest Alliance curriculum was academically enriching,” she says, “but the most valuable part was that my students learned the human value of caring for their own spaces.”

Teachers are leaders in Chiapas, and that puts them in a unique position. They are in a position to spearhead meaningful change in their communities by educating the next generation, while serving as a valuable information source for municipal authorities, farmers and others. They have also designed and initiated projects to reduce waste, recycle, conserve water and compost.

“From my perspective,” adds Cruz González, “the task of mitigating climate change begins with the community’s responsibility of caring for the forests and reforesting them. We decide to participate or not, to do something or not. Let’s hope our decision makes a difference.” 

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