On August 2017 I arrived to Germany to start my MSc in Tropical Forestry at TU Dresden. This being the first time I was experiencing life in Europe, there were many things that surprised me. But one of the most shocking first impressions I had was the scarcity of Ecuadorians in international programs and the few number of cases Ecuador was even mentioned in tropical forestry lectures. Many questions have come to my mind to try to understand this phenomenon. “Is it because our education is not good enough for admission in European universities, or for scholarships requirements?” “Is it a cultural barrier? Are we scared of starting over in a new country?” “Are forests in Ecuador really not as important as forests in other tropical countries?” “Is it because we don’t publish as many scientific articles as other Latin American countries do?” “Or is it only because Ecuador is too small to be relevant in world forests’ reports?”
But how much people really know about Ecuador?
Well there are two main things people around the world usually know about Ecuador: first that it is located at the equator and second that the Galapagos Islands belong to it. Both of them are true, but are not the only remarkable facts Ecuador should be recognized for. As a biologist and a tropical forestry student, I can only be grateful for being born in Ecuador and for being able to enjoy the gifts of its landscapes and biological richness. I wish that so many more people in the world would know that this small country is a real treasure, not only because of its inherent beauty, but because its natural resources are of great economic and social importance.
Ecuador is full of invaluable treasures. The Yasuní National Park, located in the Ecuadorian Amazon may be the most biodiverse place on earth. The genetic resources that it shelters are a key source for pharmaceutical development, disease resistant crop varieties and technology innovation. This forest is also home some of the very few and last “uncontacted human tribes”, and of many animal and plant species that can only be found there. Our dry tropical forests in the southwestern pacific coast are one of the last patches in the world of this highly threatened ecosystem. The Andean region with its several isles of biodiversity, isolated by climatic and geographical barriers, is not only a refuge of many endemic species, but also the home of the “Paramos”. This unique ecosystems provide one of the most vital services, the supply of fresh water to various major South American cities and communities. Not only that, but they aid combatting climate change by accumulating carbon in soil. The Galapagos Marine Reserve is a true magnet for marine life and the islands a living laboratory of evolution.
Fortunately I have had the opportunity to live or work in all and each of this places and have the privilege to be ambassador of their value. I am convinced that the best way of taking care of our natural treasures is by transforming their intangible or frequently unrecognized value into a visible and measurable one. Sustainable use of resources will not be archived if we are not able to recognize the value that natural resources have in our life.
The Global Landscape Forum Youth Ambassador Program gives me the opportunity to become a channel of information and an agent of change. I think that my empathy to people and love for life are powerful tools to deliver clear messages. I am eager to learn and share, and to be part of the international effort to build a more sustainable world.
Name, nationality and age: Nicole Acosta Vásconez, Ecuadorian, 25
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Country in which I currently live: Germany
Which university I study at: TU Dresden
Mother tongue: Spanish
Other languages I am fluent in: English