The Environmental Leadership & Training Initiative (ELTI), a Yale-based program that makes the latest tools and research in forest restoration and sustainable management accessible to the people who manage tropical landscapes, has received a $4.9 million grant from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, to continue its work.
Through field-based training, leadership support, innovative online instruction, and open access information, ELTI since 2006 has reached more than 5,000 individuals -- including landholders and farmers, practitioners and policymakers -- across tropical Latin America and Southeast Asia.
ELTI provides targeted and open access resources that have helped individuals and groups develop local capacity to conserve and restore forest and tree cover that, in turn, supports biodiversity and livelihoods in regions that have endured deforestation and land degradation.
The new grant represents Arcadia's third gift in support of ELTI, with Arcadia support now reaching $15.3 million since the program's inception in 2006. ELTI is based at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES).
"From the beginning, Arcadia has given us the flexibility to develop meaningful programs that achieve results from the bottom up," said Eva Garen, ELTI's program director and principal investigator for the new grant. "This approach has enabled ELTI and our partners to identify the pressing issues related to forest landscape degradation and to develop innovative and valuable training and leadership opportunities, including open access resources, for the people addressing these complex issues on the ground."
"The results have been inspiring and demonstrate the value of empowering cross-cultural exchanges of knowledge and experience."
It is especially rewarding, Garen said, to see the diverse and creative ways that the alumni of ELTI's training program apply what they learn with support from ELTI's leadership program. Alumni have implemented their own training courses based on ELTI themes and have even established community associations in order to receive international funding to implement high-impact restoration initiatives, she said.
Among the resources that ELTI makes available publicly is its Tropical Native Species Reforestation Information Clearinghouse (TRIC), an online trove of research information. TRIC has more than 1,200 resources in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Since its launch in 2011, it has been accessed by more than 53,000 users. All of the participants from ELTI's online courses -- more than 400 to date -- receive special guidance on how to use TRIC for literature reviews to gather information on the ecology, land-use history, and restoration strategies relevant to their own restoration initiatives.
The online courses offer tailored tutoring to practitioners across the tropical world and enables participants to develop and refine on-the-ground projects focused on tropical forest landscape restoration based on their own local contexts.
"With Arcadia's continued support, we have developed an online curriculum built around the people and communities of the tropical world that is truly novel and sorely needed," said Mark Ashton, the Morris K. Jesup Professor of Silviculture and Forest Ecology at F&ES and ELTI's principal investigator from 2006 to 2017.
"ELTI has become a leader in on-site training and in the creation of a field-based and online educational curriculum that provides learning-by-doing opportunities for professionals, landholders and others to engage in tropical forest restoration, conservation and community development."
ELTI now has five focal field training sites with customized curricula in Panama, Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia and the Philippines. At these sites, Yale partners with in-country organizations to create a unique opportunity that integrates the latest in the social and biological sciences into real-world solutions, Ashton said. "No other program exists that provides such a rich medium for education by experience," he said.
With the continued support from Arcadia, ELTI will strengthen their training activities and materials within the five focal field training sites; integrate on-site training with an increasing number of online training courses; increase support and networking opportunities for alumni to strengthen their local impact; and implement a monitoring and evaluation strategy.
Arcadia is a UK-based charitable fund that supports charities and scholarly institutions that preserve cultural heritage and the environment. Founded by Peter Baldwin and Lisbet Rausing, Arcadia also supports projects that promote open access, and all of its awards are granted on the condition that any materials are made available for free online.
Since 2002, Arcadia has awarded more than $440 million to projects across the world, including several projects at Yale.
In addition to its support of ELTI, Arcadia has provided a $5 million gift to the Yale University Library enabling the library to make its collection of international materials more accessible through cataloguing and digitization; awarded $25 million to Yale to establish the Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage, and a grant to Project Anqa, a cooperation between Yale, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), and CyArk to preserve cultural heritage of the Middle East by using 3D digital recordings.
In addition, Rausing and Baldwin awarded a gift of $25 million to help with the restoration of the Hall of Graduate Studies and its transformation into a home for the humanities at Yale.
Learn more about ELTI
Learn more about Arcadia