The Institute’s community projects are located in Myanmar, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, and Fiji. They have been supported by a range of grant-giving bodies, including the Darwin Initiative, the Waterloo Foundation, and National Geographic.
The Institute's project, ‘Destination Ayeyarwady’, in Myanmar won two prestigious national/international awards, in 2017 and 2019, and was placed third in a global responsible tourism competition in 2020. The judges in all three competitions highlighted the excellence of its community-based involvement.
In all three projects in Southeast Asia and Melanesia, the emphasis has been on meeting SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) within the context of biodiversity conservation. These goals include:
* Goal 5 – gender equality
* Goal 8 – providing work and economic growth
* Goal 10 – reducing national economic and social inequalities
* Goal 13 – climate action
* Goal 15 – protecting life on land by supporting the sustainable use of ecosystems.
Through these projects, the Institute has developed many different areas of expertise, with a theoretical and practical understanding of how to promote community-led biodiversity conservation in parallel with poverty alleviation.
The Institute seeks to develop a range of transferable skills within the communities, ensuring that training is delivered in a way that is gender and socially equitable. Some skills are technical and specific and others more transferable. They include:
* ecotourism and the economic value of wildlife conservation
* concepts of sustainability, plastic free, and the use of eco-friendly materials
* designing a business model based on hosting ecotourists/nature tourists/cultural tourists
* health and safety
* hospitality, cooking, and hygiene
* the importance of design and presentation
* English language skills and cultural exchange
* book-keeping, money management, and banking
* marketing, social media, communication, and outreach
INTERNSHIPS in COMMUNITY-LED CONSERVATION
The Institute hosted internships for Myanmar and foreign students with an interest in:
* community-led biodiversity conservation
* ecotourism/nature tourism/ cultural tourism
* the impact of alternative livelihoods on traditional rural societies
* developing strategies to deliver schools-based environmental education
* economic/social/cultural aspects of a traditional rural fishing and agricultural community
* sustainable living
The Institute is collaborating on a project which is showcasing how Bhutan's schools can assist in delivering important conservation data; place local communities at the heart of local conservation; and enthuse a new, environmentally aware generation.
The project is led by a former Harrison Institute MSc student who is a teacher at Phuntshothang School. In 2022, Mr Tshering Dendup received a prestigious ‘Conservation Leadership Programme’ award for this work.
The project is in collaboration with a range of in-country CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) and focuses on Deothang-NSJ IBA (Important Bird Area). This IBA is situated opposite the school, provides an irreplaceable forest corridor within the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex, and is home to IUCN vulnerable species.