Saving nature: don’t forget kids are part of the solution!

Inspiring the next generation of forest and ocean watchers.

Recently I had the opportunity to give a presentation about two of Vizzuality’s flagship projects: Global Forest Watch and Global Fishing Watch to a crowd of teenagers and teachers that are part of the program: Erasmus+ KA2: Plugging into Nature with New Technologies.

Students at the IES La Madraza (Granada, Spain) watching the presentation.

First I would like to highlight how happy I am to see how kids of this generation have this opportunity of exchange with students from other European countries. Thanks to this they have the chance to learn so much about not only the topic of the program but also about life.

I’m used to giving presentations at conferences or congresses but this time it was different, it was the first time that I had to talk to a non-technical audience made up of people of different ages and backgrounds. It felt like a real challenge, but on the other hand, I was looking forward to it!

The main goal of this Erasmus program is to promote the use of technology to increase kids’ interest and engagement with the natural world. In fact, by connecting children to nature and the outdoors through technology, we can empower them to be part of the solution from an earlier age. We can inspire them to create the tools and applications that are needed now, and in the future, to tackle the environmental issues that we face as a society.

Before I began my presentation, I spent some time getting to know the teachers, who came from a variety of secondary schools in the UK, Romania, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Spain. All of them conscious of the importance of transferring knowledge related to issues such as climate change or habitat loss to kids and teenagers who will soon be directly affected by their effects.

After introducing myself and the company I got to explain the importance of forests and how we as individuals can help stop deforestation and illegal logging by engaging with tools such as Global Forest Watch (GFW). It was amazing to see the interest in the faces of the audience. They were all excited to see how they could use a tool to check the variation in tree cover around their hometowns. But not only that, by making use of the extra layers provided in GFW they realised they could access more information that would lead them to the possible reasons for those changes.

Visualise the changes in tree cover across the world with the help of GFW.

Then I moved on to state the importance of oceans in our everyday life. Even though we tend not to think about it, problems such as climate change, poverty, unemployment, or even immigration can be heavily influenced by the quality of our oceans. Thus, it’s crucial to monitor their health and protect them. Only then we can make sure we are on the right path to preventing all these bad things from happening. They could see how Global Fishing Watch is part of the solution, providing governments, NGOs, researchers, journalists and, more generally, individual citizens with a tool that brings transparency to when, where, and how fishing is being done across the whole world.

Every bright spot on the Global Fishing Watch map is a fishing vessel.

Actually it’s funny, but to some extent this talk made me feel much more fulfilled than other technical talks I’ve done in front of auditoriums packed full of people.

We, as programmers sometimes forget about the ultimate goal of our creations, which I would say is to help people achieve things they thought were impossible. So, seeing the amazement in all these people’s faces while I was showing them the possibilities at their fingertips gave me such a feeling of fulfilment.

Group photo with two of the teachers that made possible this program.
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