Conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall Discusses Health, Gender Equality, And Conservation
Dr. Jane Goodall gave a speech promoting health, gender equality, and conservation Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Goodall, a renowned primatologist and conservationist, spoke to an audience at the U.S. Department of State’s Marshall Center and discussed the work and success of the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) in conserving environments, promoting healthy lives, and empowering women. The U.S. Office of Global Health Diplomacy hosted the event.
Dr. Goodall’s talk titled, “The Intersection between Gender, Health and Conservation,” primarily focused on the human impact on the environment and Jane Goodall Institute’s work with local communities to reduce pressure on natural resources.
In her speech to the audience on Tuesday, Dr. Goodall said she spoke with a variety of scientists who say:
“We don’t have that much time left before the climate is unsustainable. And yes, we’re in the midst of the sixth great extinction.”
She noted that, in her travels around the world, she has talked with many people about the state of the planet and human survival. She described many of the people she spoke with are depressed, angry, while some are violent and apathetic saying, there’s “nothing we can do about it.”
However, Jane Goodall expressed her optimism concerning possible human extinction and the state of the planet.
“If we give nature a chance, and maybe some help, it can be restored — not quite as much as before, but it can once again sustain life.”
Dr. Goodall added a crucial point and necessity for human survival, saying that perhaps the most crucial area of concern for human survival is the youth of the world.
“One of my most important reasons for hope is the youth.”
She expressed her fear that we might as well all “give it up” if new generations makes the same mistakes we made, or if they’re not going to be better stewards of planet Earth as we have been.
Dr. Goodall described the Jane Goodall Institute found that when communities, in particular, girls and women are empowered with education and the skills to meet their basic health needs and earn sustainable, environmentally friendly livelihoods, they are more devoted to protect their environment.
Increasing access to education for girls and women improves their socio-economic outcomes and reduces pressure on natural resources. Jane Goodall Institute programs help girls stay in school past puberty by providing them with a peer support network, hygienic latrines that offer privacy, sanitary supplies, and access to information about their health.
The non-profit organization also encourages women to increase family incomes by helping them develop sustainable sources of income through projects, such as animal husbandry, permaculture, and tree nurseries. Each of these activities helps reduce the loss of habitats and advances the community’s well-being and the surrounding environments.
According to Dr. Jane Goodall and her colleagues at the institute, improving education, gender equality, health care, and economic opportunities in communities helps to develop greater health and welfare. This enhanced well-being motivates an individual’s willingness to focus outside of his or her personal desires, and shift those wants on the community’s need for future sustainability.
For example, Dr. Goodall described how Tanzanian farmers were unaware of the fact that their farming method of growing crops on steep slopes caused soil erosion and dried up local waterways, streams, and rivers. Using software, satellite imagery, and high-resolution photographs provided by JGI, Google Earth, and NASA, communities were able to see every tree in the surrounding area and saw how they were depleting their natural resources.
The Jane Goodall Institute provided the villagers conservation methods to help improve their farming and eliminate much of the soil erosion in areas in Gombe. Gradually the people of Gombe began trusting JGI and utilized more of the beneficial programs offered to the villagers.
Dr. Goodall noted that they have “another tremendous advantage” to share with people who are skeptical of the conservation progress made by the 52 villages JGI has helped.
Jane cites that the Jane Goodall Institute helped establish village workshops to record adverse human impacts. Each village assigned one or two villagers to act as a forest monitor. Google and JGI provided each forest monitor with a tablet to monitor and record the health of the surrounding forests and catalog changes over time.
The forest monitors look for trees illegally cut down, animal traps, and discarded gun cartridges, and they record their findings and GPS location on a tablet. The data is sent to a Google cloud platform, which provides proof of where they’ve been.
Dr. Goodall says the Jane Goodall Institute and villages are working well together.
“The villages have become our partners. And their proud of the work they do. They understand the importance of conserving the environment.”
According to Dr. Goodall, the surrounding area of Gombe now have three times more forest thanks to the work, expertise, and support provided by the Jane Goodall Institute, Google, and NASA.
Dr. Jane Morris Goodall plans to continue her quest to educate people around the world about global, environmental, and public health concerns and issues. Currently, the 81-years-old travels 300 days out of the year. Her travels have taken her to North America, the Middle East, Asia, South America, and Africa. In addition to being a conservationist and primatologist, Jane Goodall is a United Nations Messenger of Peace — a post she’s held for more than ten years.
[Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]