1.Could you introduce yourself and explain why you wanted to develop your NGO in Santo Antao in Cape Verde?
My name is Silvana Monteiro Roque, I’m a biologist and executive director of the Cabo Verdian NGO Terrimar – Ambiente e Desenvolvimento Sustentável (https://www.facebook.com/Terrimar.santoantao).
In 2011, I decided to set up this NGO in Santo Antao because, until then, sea turtle poaching was reaching alarming levels and there were no sea turtle protection initiatives on the island.
Furthermore, Santo Antão is an island with important marine and terrestrial ecosystems (endemic plants, endangered marine species, birds, etc.) and exceptional landscapes that are quite unique to Cape Verde (mountains, valleys, small rivers, etc.) that face different types of threats (agriculture, construction, for example). But there were not yet many active conservation initiatives. So we felt it was necessary to start extending conservation to other species and habitats.
2.You’ve been working to conserve biodiversity for a long time. What’s the thing you’re most proud of?
I worked for 15 years for the National Directorate for the Environment. I am proud to have contributed to the creation and implementation phase of Cabo Verde’s protected area system through my work on data collection, GIS and protected area management.
I am also proud to have created two national NGOs that are still working in Cabo Verde: Terrimar and Projecto Vitó. These different initiatives have highlighted the existence of threatened biodiversity in the country and have helped to launch conservation and dissemination activities. I’ve seen a lot of change over the last 20 years.
3.You are a woman at the head of an organisation. How do you think we can encourage more women to get involved in biodiversity conservation?
Being a woman at the head of an organisation in Cabo Verde is a complex task because we are in an extremely male-dominated country, and we are constantly faced with difficult situations. For women who wish to become involved in biodiversity conservation, it is necessary to promote conditions that encourage their participation in conservation activities, and they must be psychologically strong to face the challenges that arise. They also need to be inspired by successful women and believe in their potential. It’s great to see several NGOs in the country run by young women, it’s very encouraging!
4.What are Terrimar’s next objectives?
Terrimar is a growing organisation. We are currently implementing our 5-year strategy (2021-2025) with the support of various donors (PPI, CEPF, MCAF, FFI) and even with the support of other NGOs in Cabo Verde (Biosfera, Projeto Biodiversidade). Our next objectives are to continue and consolidate this growth, by focusing not only on our field activities but also on our organisational development. To this end, we have an organisational development plan that should help us become a stronger organisation, with the internal capacity to promote all our conservation objectives. We must continue to mobilise financial resources for this.
In addition, we intend to continue to raise awareness among citizens, political decision-makers and businesses of the importance of conserving species and their habitats as a means of achieving the desired sustainable development.