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Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 227;

Malagasy Conservationists and Environmental Educators: Life Paths into Conservation

Department of Biology, Research Group Ecology and Environmental Education, University of Hildesheim, Universitätsplatz 1, 31141 Hildesheim, Germany
Madagascar Wildlife Conservation, Lot 17420 bis Avaradrova Sud, 503 Ambatondrazaka, Madagascar
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ralf Hansmann
Received: 20 December 2016 / Revised: 25 January 2017 / Accepted: 1 February 2017 / Published: 8 February 2017
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In a globally fast-changing world, dedicated conservationists play a central role in societies moving towards the achievement of sustainable development. How do people become advocates for nature? Research suggests that childhood experiences in natural places are core determinants for the development of environmental stewardship. In many developing countries, however, access to intact natural environments is limited. This study explores formative influences on individuals who actively contribute to nature conservation and environmental education (EE) in Madagascar. We conducted nine semi-structured interviews with participants in a national EE workshop. Formative experiences were reported mainly from university years, and influential persons were researchers and high school teachers, many from abroad. The media also play a considerable role, while negative experiences, familial influences, or experience of natural areas during childhood were rarely mentioned. In contrast to former studies, the results suggest that direct experiences of nature can still be decisive in determining a young person’s path as a dedicated environmental practitioner during young adulthood. Role models who are active in the conservation and sustainable development fields can compensate for a lack of familial models. These findings might require a rethinking of current educational practices in Madagascar because children might not be the only important group to target with educational interventions. View Full-Text
Keywords: significant life experiences; formative events; environmental education; nature conservation; environmental awareness; values significant life experiences; formative events; environmental education; nature conservation; environmental awareness; values
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Reibelt, L.M.; Richter, T.; Rendigs, A.; Mantilla-Contreras, J. Malagasy Conservationists and Environmental Educators: Life Paths into Conservation. Sustainability 2017, 9, 227.

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