Peace Corp Volunteers to Collect Data for ASC While Working in Peru
Grant Adams is passionate about making a difference. He is currently living and working in Ulcumayo, Peru as a Peace Corps Volunteer focusing on environmental management. While his work includes projects in everything from reforestation to tourism, much of it is focused around education in basic conservation and pollution reduction. As if this were not enough, Grant is also working with ASC and the Pacific Biodiversity Institute to collect data from the remote areas around the town in which he lives. The information he gathers and sends back will help to form a clearer picture of this region and the species at risk within it.
The Pacific Biodiversity Institute is making strides to collect as much data as possible in South America in order to identify areas that are at high risk for biodiversity loss. By exploring South America’s wild places, recording biodiversity, and determining the impacts of humans on various ecosystems, the organization is forming a more coherent image of these environments. With more information about wild areas, the Pacific Biodiversity Institute is able to identify how and where conservation efforts should be focused. This requires many partnerships stretching from the local level to a global scale, a great deal of coordination, and of course – volunteers like Grant.
Grant has been busy collecting data for the Pacific Biodiversity Institute in Peru. “I collect land-use and biodiversity data through GPS data, photos, and field notes,” Grant explains. “Documenting road characteristics (is the road paved, is there seasonal usage, is there high or low traffic, etc.) also plays a major role in my work.” In order to obtain information on vast and remote areas, Grant embarks on extended hiking trips, backpacking across mountainous and rugged terrain. In many of the small towns he visits, he is the first outsider the locals have ever seen. “While visiting one town, I found that the children would run away from me and hide behind buildings, peaking around the corners. I was confused by their reaction at first, but it turns out they thought I was the “Pishtaco,” the Peruvian boogie-man.”
Grant’s efforts are crucial to understanding Peru’s biodiversity and the threats that it faces. He is working in an area with comparatively few inhabitants, but like many regions in South America and the world over, it is challenged both directly and indirectly by humans despite the fact that relatively little is known about it. “My experience is unique in that I am one of the first to collect information in Ulcumayo for scientific purposes,” he says. “Very little is known about the district of Ulcumayo so I hope to assist in that aspect. I also have found throughout my experience that deforestation and pollution are large problems. [T]here is a need for a better understanding of how these two human impacts effect the local environment.”
As a citizen scientist, Grant has had his share of setbacks. Not only were his computer and camera stolen on a trip last year, but his two external hard drives - with all of his data backed up on them – crashed, wiping out most of his findings. Grant has a friend in the U.S. working to recover any data possible, but in the meantime he is continuing to collect information and send it on to the Pacific Biodiversity Institute.
Despite the difficulties he has encountered, Grant has found that this endeavor is contributing to his sense of purpose in Peru. While his work with the Peace Corps is very rewarding, results are obviously not always instant and tangible. He is enjoying the immediate satisfaction of collecting and sharing data with the knowledge that it will contribute to the preservation and conservation of Ulcumayo.
Grant’s work in exploring and documenting some of Peru’s more remote areas is a great example of the very real effect that people can have as ASC citizen scientists. If you’re in South America or planning a trip there, you can get involved in a number of projects through ASC, including the Pacific Biodiversity Institute. For more information on how to get involved in South America, visit http://www.adventureandscience.org/wildlands-south-america.html.
~ Liam Dillaway
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