An exploration of a mini-guide programme: Training local children in sea turtle conservation and ecotourism in Brazil
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This study explores the mini-guide programme delivered by the Brazilian Sea Turtle Conservation Program (Tartarugas Marinhas or TAMAR) in the fishing community of Praia do Forte, Bahia, Brazil. Established in 1995, this programme lasts 1 year, training local children, aged 10-14 years, in guiding skills and learning about sea turtles and marine ecosystems. The children also receive a monthly stipend. In-depth semi-structured interviews with 77 local community members were conducted during 9 months of ethnographic research to assess perceptions about the programme. The interviews also included seven former students who provided an evaluation of the programme from their perspective. The results indicate community-wide support for the programme, with locals focussing not only on greater environmental awareness of the children (or Tamarzinhos, as they are called), but also on the personal development as a result of participation. Former Tamarzinhos themselves agree with this assessment and demonstrate knowledge gain and positive behaviour about conservation of marine species, new aspirations towards higher education, greater training and skill acquisition. As such, long-term environmental programmes such as the mini-guide programme at TAMAR can promote socio-economic and environmental changes that last throughout the youth and adult lives of the children.
Journal of Ecotourism
Copyright 2012 Taylor & Francis. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal website for access to the definitive, published version.
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