Thursday 16 march 2023
In Venezuela, conservationists encounter a multitude of challenges. While dealing with increasing deforestation, oil spills and other threats to nature, little governmental support and statistics are available. Akehe, the Venezuelan Network of Professionals for Nature, strengthens the work of conservationists in the South American country. Support of IUCN NL Land Acquisition Fund, Re:wild and the Prince Bernhard Nature Fund, enables Akehe to take their work to the next step.
Supporting conservation heroes at the frontline
The economic and political crises in Venezuela has a severe impact on nature conservation. In addition to the problems the country is dealing with, many international NGOs have left the country, tells Marc Hoogeslag, senior expert nature conservation at IUCN NL and coordinator of its Land Acquisition Fund. ‘The international conservation world has withdrawn from Venezuela. IUCN NL feels an obligation to invest in supporting the unsung heroes of frontline conservation in Venezuela, who are now united through Akehe.’
Bibiana Sucre – co-founder Akehe
‘Supporting Akehe means supporting a novel generation of conservation professionals willing to face the challenges of a complex crisis in a megadiverse country.’
Conservationist Bibiana Sucre is one of the founders of Akehe. She confirms the support for their next step is much needed: ‘Supporting Akehe means supporting a novel generation of conservation professionals willing to face the challenges of a complex crisis in a megadiverse country. While many have left, we are here to reignite the conservation movement in Venezuela.’
A network of nature organisations
Currently, Akehe has 44 members and is organised into six regional nodes located north of the Orinoco River, plus a central node coordinating the network. In this new stage, Akehe seeks to increase the number of members of all nodes and to establish new ones south of the river.
The objectives of the network are threefold, explains Sucre. ‘We strengthen the capacity of young conservationists. Secondly, we boost research, education and conservation action projects. In addition, we increase the visibility of conservation challenges and the people facing them at a national and international level.’
Training conservationists and exchanging knowledge
Akehe will organise training sessions for conservation professionals to support in their education and nature conservation initiatives. The network will establish a training calendar based on the priorities of the network, and part of the training sessions will also be available for other conservation professionals in the country. Another activity is facilitating knowledge exchange of projects with similar challenges and setting up a mentoring programme.
To further strengthen nature conservation in Venezuela, it is important for the world to see the work of the frontline conservation heroes. Akehe will therefore increase the visibility of conservation work in the country, the people behind them and the challenges they face, by seeking alliances with media and journalists, among other strategies.