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Small can have an impact

Introducing Small, the latest instalment of A Rocha’s ‘Elements of Hope’ video series. This inspiring short video highlights the power of small endeavours, reminding us that even the smallest actions can make a significant impact.  

From the small beginnings of conserving the threatened Dakatcha woodland in Kenya to reminders of the beauty and creativity in every detail of God’s creation, Small encourages us to have hope and not be discouraged by the smallness of who we are or what we can do.  

Join us in watching Small and let it inspire you to take small but meaningful steps towards caring for creation. Share it with your church, school, Bible study or youth group and see how God uses your small actions for his kingdom. We’ve created this discussion guide which we hope helps you engage the theme of the film together. Download the video from our Vimeo channel here and tell us how you are sharing it with your community!  

Ōi burrow scoping

Ōi Against the Odds

In a rewarding end to 2022, A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand saw 12 Ōi/Grey-Faced Petrel chicks fledge from Karioi! 

Historically, thousands of seabirds would flock to the beaches, coastal forests, and mountaintop of Karioi to raise their chicks, but now only a tiny remnant remains. When A Rocha first joined the community restoration project on the mountain in partnership with the Whāingaroa community, they found only a dozen or so Ōi burrows containing broken eggshells or dead chicks. Each year, adult pairs were returning to Karioi to breed only to find their burrows overtaken by invasive species and competing for habitat. For each breeding pair, a single Ōi egg is laid in winter and incubates for about 55 days before hatching but it’s not till summer before the Ōi chick fledges. This makes the Ōi egg and chick very vulnerable to predators like rats, stoats, ferrets, possums and feral cats.    

To give these birds a breeding chance, A Rocha began a long-term intensive predator control along the Whāingaroa Coast and on Karioi. They also monitor the Ōi burrows during breeding season, when adult pairs return to lay a single egg. Searching for burrows can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, so Miro, the specially trained seabird dog, helps locate new and active burrows. Each week, a dedicated team of ‘burrow buddies’ visit the burrows to assess activity and respond to predator threats. A Rocha also set up 24-hour field cameras near the burrows each year, which give an intimate look at the everyday (and night time) activities of the Ōi.    

For the 2022 breeding season, the Karioi team monitored 63 burrows. Unfortunately, a number of Ōi chicks were lost due to stoat incursions, but the 2022 Ōi season was still the most successful one yet! With 12 chicks fledged around Christmas, the season marked a record since the first seven chicks fledged in 2017. 

Thanks to long-term monitoring and intensive predator control, 47 Ōi chicks have fledged from Karioi in the past six years! This result is a testimony to a community that has come together and made a real difference to a vulnerable bird species and a threatened ecosystem.     

Click here to watch amazing footage from the monitoring cameras showing juvenile Ōi chicks spreading their wings and preparing to launch themselves into life at sea. These birds will return to the same coastline in 5-6 years’ time to raise their own chicks. 

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A truly communal kitchen

Ismael Peña enjoying a traditional Peruvian meal prepared by local women at Micaela Bastidas de San Demetrio community kitchen in Pacasmayo, northern Peru.

At the end of 2021, A Rocha Peru began a partnership with Pastor José Guzmán from Iglesia Casa de Oración in Pacasmayo, northern Peru, to develop a community kitchen that the church had initiated. Located in a remote, desert shanty town, Micaela Bastidas de San Demetrio community kitchen was facing the challenge of improving its modest premises. In response, A Rocha Peru installed an ecological cookstove for more self-sufficiency, set up an organic garden and a space for rearing small animals, and introduced environmental education activities.  

The collaboration proved a significant catalyst which inspired local government and companies to get involved and complement this work by developing the building structure, improving the kitchen and providing a water cistern. Through these combined efforts, Micaela Bastidas de San Demetrio community kitchen has been transformed into a communal hub run by local women committed to preparing and serving daily nutritious meals to 28 families, a total of 120 adults and children. 

In October 2022, A Rocha International’s Director of International Operations, Sarah French, and A Rocha Peru’s Executive Director, Ramón Casana, had the pleasure of being shown around the centre. The local women served them a delicious meal as an example of their work and a token of their appreciation to A Rocha. This inspiring example of community work shows the multiplying impact that A Rocha Peru is having in the communities it serves.  

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A Rocha France – European Volunteer – ESC (Mas Mireille)

The project offers young people the opportunity to acquire competences in scientific studies of flora, fauna and ecosystems and to put this into practice by implementing projects for managing and protecting the sensitive and threatened wetlands of the Vallée des Baux near Arles. Volunteers will take part in observation, monitoring or censing of species, taking samples and analyzing them, protecting biodiversity of the sites managed by A Rocha by direct actions (tree planting, vegetation cutting, setting up nesting boxes or perches, etc). Specific time (up to 10%) will be devoted to learning French language, 10% of the time will be devoted to communicating about the ESC through different medium (video, stands, articles). 30% of the time will be spent on tasks related to the proper functioning of the Centre A Rocha France: – Welcoming visitors – Maintenance of the domain and its park, various tasks related to Community life.

WHERE? Lieu-dit Mas Mireille, 13280 Arles, France

WHEN? Application deadline : end of March Possibility to start before if early selection

JOB DESCRIPTION: 1 year volunteering position with A Rocha France in the Vallée des Baux, starting before the end of March Open to young European citizens from outside France.

Send resume and motivation (with two references) to Coline Raillon, Nature Projects manager at Les Courmettes : [email protected]

Accommodation, food and transport arrangements

The volunteers are housed at the study centre, which is also the logistic base for the projects, the head office and the hub for running the life of the team. They share rooms (1 to 2 people of the same sex per room). Lunch and supper are eaten together during the week with the team and any other participants at fixed times. Breakfasts are self-service. The team members take turns at preparing the meals for the group. Special diets are catered for. The centre is no-smoking. Bikes are available for getting around. Rules of life might be adapted due to the COVID situation.

Training during the activity

Training will be provided at arrival concerning the rules of life at the center, community life, week planning and project and activity description. Field work training is provided all along the project to the volunteer such as: species identification skills, protocols, use of observation tools and other field equipment. Training in database management, data analysis and report drafting is also provided depending on the volunteer skills at arrival.

Participant profile

We are looking for volunteers who have a real interest in protecting the environment. They will need to enjoy life in the country and the contact with the flora and fauna, which means sometimes putting up with difficult conditions, getting around by bike, the wind, dry heat, etc. The volunteers will have to show that they can take initiatives in the tasks they undertake and take them through to completion. They should not hesitate to ask for clarification or direction if necessary for their projects. A basic knowledge of French is an advantage for the volunteers, but not a necessity.

ESC (AR France)

A Rocha France – European Volunteer – ESC (Courmettes)

Activity description:

Starting by the end of February 2023 for a year

Les Courmettes is a natural site of 600ha in a Natura 2000 area. Located nearby Nice, scientific studies and monitorings are implemented along side actions to raise awereness and train people. The European volunteers, under the direction of the nature activities manager, will participate in protecting this rich site by reconciling both nature conservation and welcoming the public. Volunteers will develop competences in environmental education, scientific studies and natural site management.

LOCATION: Domaine des Courmettes 06140 Tourrettes-sur-Loup, France

DATE: Starting by the end of February 2023, 12 months

ORGANISATION: 35h/week, 1week-end over 2 and public holidays

POSITIONS TO BE FILLLED: open to young European citizens from outside France

Send resume and motivation (with two references) to Coline Raillon, Nature Projects manager at Les Courmettes : [email protected]

Domaine des Courmettes
The ocellated Lizard, threatened
Orchids monitoring

Missions

Volunteers will take part in :

  • raising awareness with the public through different media (panels, discussion, educational tools etc.)
  • species and habitat studies (fieldwork, data analysis etc.)
  • maintenance and management actions (trail marking, site defence etc.)
  • learning French (10% of the time) and communicating about the ESC through different media (10% – video, stands, articles)
  • tasks related to the proper functioning of the Les Courmettes centre: welcoming visitors, maintenance of the estate and its park, various tasks related to community life, cooking, etc. (30%)

Accommodation, food and transport arrangements

Volunteers are housed at the Courmettes centre, which is also the logistical base for the projects, A Rocha France’s head office and the hub for running the life of the team. Rooms are shared (1 to 2 people of the same sex per room). Lunch and supper, prepared by a cook, are eaten together at fixed times during the week with the team and any other participants. When the cook is absent, team members take turns to prepare meals. Breakfasts are self-service. Vegetarian diets can be offered. Cars are available (with a fee) to get around. The modus vivendi ‘rules of life’ may be adapted due to the COVID situation.

Participant profile:

  • real interest in raising awareness and protecting the environment 
  • enjoying rural life, contact with people and flora and fauna. Meaning sometimes putting up with difficult weather conditions and being ready to welcome visitors at Les Courmettes and talk about the site’s regulations.
  • taking initiative in the tasks they undertake and following them through to completion
  • basic knowledge of French and a driving license are an advantage for the volunteers
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40 for the future campaign

Over forty years, A Rocha has been peacekeepers in elephant/human conflict in India, planted indigenous trees from Nigeria to Peru, fed undernourished children with the produce of our sustainable agriculture programme in Canada and become a credible voice of hope in the increasingly fraught environmental conversation.  

As we reach this significant milestone, you are invited to become part of the story of God’s work through us in this world. We are looking for 40 gifts of $40,000 for 40 A Rocha locations. Whether you are an individual, a church, a family or a group of friends, our hope is that investing in A Rocha’s next forty years will bring you into deeper relationship with this beautiful world and the one who created it.  

If you would like to find out more, please email Avery Robson, Director of Development at [email protected].  

We realize for many a smaller gift will be more manageable – we are grateful for any gift, large or small. Regular gifts are particularly appreciated, as they help us make longer term plans with confidence. Check out the A Rocha Table, our community of regular givers. We’d love to have some new sign ups this year – perhaps 40 of you! 

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Have a Christmas with a difference

If you’re stuck for present ideas for your loved ones this Christmas, why not peruse the A Rocha gift catalogue and make it a Christmas with a difference? We have new products for 2022, plus a range of other Gifts with a Difference that will bring lasting benefits to nature and community members across Africa, Asia and South America. 

You can give a wormery to improve the hygiene of families in India as well as the health of the soil, or an elephant crossing to ensure the safety of elephants and people living around Bannerghatta National Park. A clean cookstove for a family in Peru will help save the threatened dry forest landscapes and improve the health of local communities, or you can help train young people to create an organic garden, improving their diet and bringing them closer to nature. 

Each order comes with a free gift card to remind your loved one of the difference made in their name. Or, if you are feeling particularly virtuous, you can go paperless and opt for an ecard. (Hint: they are also great if you run out of time!)  

Shop now at shop.arocha.org 

Semiahmoo Bay looking south towards Drayton Harbor in the US, where shellfish harvest is permitted (by Hannah Mae)

Towards bountiful life in Boundary Bay

Meandering through A Rocha Canada’s Brooksdale Environmental Center is the Little Campbell River / Tatalu. Walking around the watershed, you might spot a flowering Vancouver Island Beggarticks, a nesting Barn Swallow or even an elusive Salish Sucker, thought for a time to be locally extinct. This little river, once a place of bounty, is now the greatest source of faecal contamination into Boundary Bay (Pacific Ocean). Harvesting shellfish in the Bay was an integral part of Semiahmoo First Nation nutrition and culture, but due to contamination, the Bay has been closed to harvest since the 1970s.  

To address this issue, A Rocha Canada works in partnership with the Semiahmoo First Nation and other members of the Shared Waters Alliance to monitor water quality in 19 locations: 17 freshwater sites along the Tatalu and its tributaries and two marine sites in Semiahmoo Bay. Water quality is an excellent indicator of overall watershed health, and this data addresses a knowledge gap about the current state of faecal contamination and how and where conditions have changed since the 1970s.  

A Rocha Canada is also undertaking microbial source-tracking to determine the causes of this contamination. These can include septic system discharges, runoff from agricultural land containing livestock waste, pet waste and cross-connections between storm and sewage pipes. A Rocha also partners with landowners and local municipalities to discuss the extent of the issue and how to combat it. One solution is to restore habitat along the river – putting up fences to keep out cattle and horses, replacing invasive plants with native species, for example – to increase the forest buffer, which helps filter contaminants and supports biodiversity.  

Ultimately, improving the ecological health of the water is important for everyone: from plants, to fish, from birds to people. A Rocha hopes that together, our efforts will enable everyone to enjoy the bounty and biodiversity that this watershed has to offer.  

You can hear more from A Rocha Canada and Semiahmoo Chief Harley Chappell in this video.   

Sunkpa Shea Women in Ghana

Sunkpa Shea Women: from rural Ghana to New York

The Sunkpa Shea Women’s Cooperative (northern Ghana) uses shea nut butter production as a way to care for the beautiful and biodiverse Mole Ecological Landscape. Through shea nut collection and shea butter processing, the collective of around 1,000 women encourages landscape restoration and builds a green value chain in the shea butter industry.  

The Sunkpa Shea Women’s journey started in 2013, when their daily task was to walk several miles to collect shea nuts and either sell or process them into butter to sell at the local market. Collecting shea from the wild is a time-consuming effort; making hand-made shea butter is a tedious process. The women faced additional challenges: a lack of transport to bring the nuts to a processing centre, inconsistent local or export markets, the felling of shea trees by charcoal producers – and less than premium prices for their shea butter.  

Through the Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) and support from A Rocha Ghana and the Savannah Fruits Company, the women organized themselves into a cooperative to address their challenges. Collaboration allowed them to establish a green value chain for quality hand-made shea butter and to address challenges across the chain. For example, the women established – and now manage – a nursery where they grow shea and other indigenous seedlings to use for landscape restoration to ensure a consistent supply of shea nuts.  

They also now have an ultra-modern shea butter processing facility, tricycles to ease transportation challenges and a link with a cosmetic company, Evolution of Smooth, headquartered in New York – the first organic shea butter from the Mole Landscape went to New York for sale in June 2021! For nine years, the Sunkpa Shea Women have been steadfast in their efforts to have their everyday rural livelihood bring sustainability both to their landscape and their business.  

The contribution of these women was recognised nationally and internationally in July this year with the awarding of the prestigious Equator Prize, a biennial recognition of outstanding community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. This achievement highlights the importance of indigenous people as defenders of a country’s natural resources and the crucial role they play in conserving the environment.