Education and training of government counterparts at all levels, community members, university professors/students and others is embedded in every field survey, legislative effort, protected area management plan, or community-based initiative WCS has engaged in. In sum:
- Overall, more than 23,000 Afghans at the local and national levels have been trained in the tools and skills necessary to enact sustainable resource management.
- Since 2006, WCS has been providing training to provincial government staff in Bamyan and Badakhshan on field and office-based computer skills, and to district government authorities - including the border police - on conservation-related issues. WCS’s comprehensive ranger training program has been very effective in the provinces over the past five years, with 37 government and 58 community rangers now actively patrolling Band-e-Amir, Wakhan and potential protected areas in both Bamyan and Badakhshan.
- WCS has published over 25 scientific papers, with Afghan authors or co-authors, on conservation and natural resource management in Afghanistan in international academic journals or as book chapters.
Our environmental education program’s mission is to inspire the Afghan people to be natural conservationists by promoting a better understanding and positive attitude towards wildlife and wild places through passive, active and interactive learning activities. We have achieved the following:
- Engaged the next-generation of resource managers: WCS established the first school-based and gender-balanced Junior Rangers in Schools in Badakhshan with full approval of national and provincial education officials. The Junior Rangers oversee projects that link students to the natural environment, helping to foster understanding and pride in local natural resources. Furthermore, since 2014, WCS facilitated a “Environment Day Celebrations” in the Wakhan where students from 17 schools showcased their environmental work to over 21,930 (including 9,957 women) people.
- Built national awareness: WCS uses modern day media such as TV and radio, as well as public gatherings and public events such as the World Environment Day, Earth Day, International Biodiversity Day, Wildlife Migratory Bird Day to campaign and raise awareness about conservation challenges among thousands of Afghans.
- Distributed conservation publications: Since 2008, as teaching aids for environmental education, awareness raising and professional capacity building, WCS has developed, printed and distributed 47,500 publications (including 27,000 posters, 10,000 scientific and children’s books, 9,000 brochures, and supported NEPA and one school in Kabul to publish a total of 1,500 copies of various magazines).
- Trained teachers: currently WCS is working closely with 120 teachers (including 16 women) to design and implementation EEP programmes such as ecosystem awareness raising campaign and School Environment day celebrations in Band-e-Amir and Wakhan National Park respectively.
Moreover, we also build capacity of government counterparts at all levels, community members, university professors/students and others. We also support and facilitate our own Afghan staff and those from partner organizations to follow post-graduate programs to expand the pool of qualified Afghans in the field of conservation and natural resource management. A few highlighted training activities have aimed to:
- Protect Endangered Snow Leopards: Trained Afghan counterparts in capture and anesthetization techniques, resulting in the collaring of four adult snow leopards in the Hindu Kush Mountains as part of the first satellite telemetry study in Afghanistan. WCS facilitated National Geographic Society to film this work and it was aired internationally on National Geographic Television in 2013.
- Protect Threatened Species: Provided technical support to the National Environmental Protection Agency and Afghanistan Wildlife Executive Committee in producing the first, second, third and fourth protected species lists for Afghanistan. The combined list now contains 149 species.
- Engage Religious Leaders: Published a booklet jointly with NEPA and the Ministry of Pilgrimage & Religious Affairs highlighting Islamic teaching on the environment, and developed materials to enable religious leaders across Afghanistan to convey environmental messages to their congregations.
- Build Botanical Research Capacity: Assisted Kabul University to save a rare and newly discovered herbarium with over 20,000 specimens, including organization and proper storage of the specimens.
- Build High Level Support for Protected Areas: Organized a study tour in 2007 for ministerial decision makers to national parks in Indonesia that demonstrated the benefits to communities, government and natural resources that result from protecting biodiversity.
- Highlight Emerging Wildlife Diseases: Animal health and husbandry training has been given to the Central Veterinary Diagnostic and Research laboratory in Kabul where, for example, WCS developed and advanced the laboratory’s serological screening methods. Capacity in emerging wildlife diseases has been built with 227 Afghan veterinarians and others at MAIL, Kabul Veterinary School, Kabul Zoo and other partner organizations, through 16 WCS training courses including wild bird identification, sampling techniques, veterinary training and technical training on Avian Influenza.
- Expand Protected Areas: WCS trained The Conservation Organization for Afghan Mountain Areas (COAM), an Afghan NGO, in wildlife data collection techniques and protected area planning, which they used to gather data in support of designating Shah Foladi as Afghanistan’s third national protected area.
- Monitoring of Illegal Activities: Developed a ranger manual for protected areas staff in Afghanistan as part of a broader programme of training for government and community rangers in Band-e Amir and Wakhan, who are now able to carry out wildlife and illegal activity monitoring patrols and in some cases, are highly proficient at camera trapping technique. WCS also Raises awareness among members of the Afghan National Police (ANP), Border Police, National Military Academy, and Customs Department in Kabul and Badakhshan provinces on Afghanistan’s wildlife and environmental legislation.