It's back to school for a group of graduate students studying deep in the Brazilian Amazon
In a classroom of tropical forests, mangrove swamps, savannahs, and wetlands, students this season began Brazil's first graduate program for tropical biodiversity in the abundant state of Amapá. The program's mission is to educate a new generation of conservationists to manage the state's land – home to 1,700 species of diverse plants and animals.
Conservation International (CI) scientists working in Brazil will teach and advise students throughout the two-year program. CI has been working tirelessly to protect Amapá for several years by creating a chain of protected areas that stretches from one end of the state to the other. The latest step in that effort was revealed in mid-September when conservationists announced the establishment of a 5.7 million acre state forest.
José Maria Cardoso da Silva, CI's vice president for science in Brazil, explained why educating future leaders in Amapá is a part of CI's work.
"Creating a program like this in a center so far from the major universities and research centers in the country represents a large challenge that CI, with our technical capacity, is especially prepared to meet," he said.
The graduate program based at the Federal University of Amapá aims to become internationally recognized for ecology, conservation, and sustainable use of biodiversity within six years.
During that time, CI will also provide financial support for student scholarships and research focused on conserving the Amapá Biodiversity Corridor.