Leading conservation through EDGE

Different reports from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) displayed during the networking dinner

Different reports from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) displayed during the networking dinner

I have just completed my Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) fellowship, focusing on the mushroom coral (heliofungia actiniformis) in the municipality of Burdeos in Quezon province.

There were things unknown before, such as the declining reefs of Burdeos, difficulty in finding the elegance coral catalaphyllia jardinei, and that the coastal management plans need to be updated.

During the first two weeks of September, I again visited the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) for the EDGE Fellows Conservation Leadership Course. I’ve finally met the other EDGE fellows, Phuong from Vietnam, Dsan from Croatia, Marcel from Cameroon, and Ali from Kenya. Grace, who’s from the Philippines working on the EDGE coral species in Southern Leyte, was there too.

For two weeks, we, the EDGE fellows, discussed, presented, networked and brainstormed the future of our fellowship. For me, it was an intense two-week journey full of enthusiasm and learning.

In those two weeks, I’ve learned how to create, build and maintain teams. Communication is the key, as well as constructive feedback and a little prodding along the way.

Another thing that I’ve learned and still learning, is how to engage the business and industry sectors in conservation work to achieve a common goal that would be beneficial for both the conservation work and the business industries. I wrote down to-do things during pauses, which I must do once I return to the Philippines.

In those two weeks, I had to review things I’ve learned before my fellowship. I had to relearn knowledge such as elevator pitches to get somebody to buy-in on your conservation work—all in five minutes. It’s simple yet true—these are logical frameworks, posters, budget management, and other things to improve my work and my life.

Working with like-minded people was fun. According to our dynamic and always exuberant coral reef lecturer, Dr. David Smith of the University of Essex, “It’s practice, practice, practice.”

Besides the sessions, we got to visit ZSL’s Whipsnade Zoo and pubs. On our spare time, I went to the British Museum, the National Gallery, Battery Park and St. James Park. Hopefully, in my next visit, I can go to the Tate, Kew Gardens and the Victoria and Albert Museums.

While I anticipate my next trip to London, I still have to expand my conservation work in the Polillo Group of Islands before I visit ZSL again. As I write this, I’m still finishing my project proposal for my next EDGE Coral work. I remain hopeful and have my fingers crossed.


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