Ethnobotanical outreach and ecosystem conservation in Blue Holes National Park, Bahamas.

Authors: Maria Fadiman*, Florida Atlantic University, Kenneth Broad, University of Miami
Topics: Cultural Geography, Environment, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: Ethnobotany, Bahamas, Abaco,Outreach, Conservation
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:40 PM
Room: Bacchus, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Conservation relies on local populations understanding their own environments. Although the Bahamas attracts large numbers of tourists, The Bahamas Blue Holes National Park on the Big Island of Abaco is working to create a connection and environmental awareness with their own residents. Working with the Blue Holes National Geographic Mapping and Exploration Team, we conducted outreach with local schools in the capacities of GIS, Virtual Reality, Cave Diving, Paleontology, Forestry and Ethnobotany. This paper focusses on the ethnobotanical aspect. The goals were: 1) To have children learn local plant use and to identify specimens, 2) To foster inter-generational connections between youth and local elders, 3) To conduct a cross cultural study of plant use. For the educational outreach we used teaching techniques within the framework of Self-Directed Learning (SDL) Experiential Learning (EL), and Place-Based Learning (PBL). Each pedagogical method is an active learning strategy focusing on student participation and self-guidance. Studies show that these methods promote an in depth understanding of natural landscapes and ecosystems. Students physically interacted with all aspects of the lessons. They rubbed, ate and drank plants, while learning through touch, smell and vision how to identify and collect their own specimens. Ethnic backgrounds of the individuals on the island are diverse. The children and adults gained a deeper understanding of their own ecosystem and of each other. This human connection to the land and knowledge can foster preservation of the forest and underground waterways.

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