Working within the volunteering industry, I am often overwhelmed by the sheer number of organizations and choices out there for people interested in doing good somewhere in the world. And so, when we at Grassroots Volunteering find great organizations doing strong work, in tandem with local communities, we strive to highlight their positive work here. Frontier has a long history—founded in 1989—and specializes in conservation and development work. I’ve asked them to share more here about how their company ethos and mission have shaped and changed over the years.
Frontier, also known as the Society for Environmental Exploration, was established in 1989 as a non-profit conservation and development non-governmental organisation (NGO). The organization aims to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem integrity and build sustainable livelihoods for poverty-stricken communities.
We have around 300 projects in over 50 different countries and we place great emphasis on working with local communities as we believe this is the best way to ensure a successful future for everyone involved. The best way to protect the environment’s needs is to first address the needs of those that rely upon it.
One of Frontier’s first successes was the creation of a marine park on Mafia Island in Tanzania. We were the first to carry out research work in this area and published a number of reports on the ecology of Mafia. It took five years of surveys—both environmental and social—to set up the park and the project was made only possible by collaborating with World Wildlife Fund in 1996. WWF was able to work more closely with the Tanzanian government and bring their previous experience of setting up protected areas to the project. Throughout the initial process and to this day the work has been carried out with the full participation of local communities. The park was always designed as multi-user so that local communities would still be able to use the areas that they relied upon for their livelihoods. Our organization continues to work within the marine park and the current warden and technical adviser are both former Frontier staff. The latest step in the marine park’s conservation is the introduction of a new Environmental Education Strategy and Action Plan (EESAP).
The organization has set up many partnerships since their inception, including Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, The Natural History Museum as well as local governments, organisations and universities in host countries.
Another project that has been a great success is our projects and work in Madagascar. As well as important research into the many endemic species found on the island, volunteers have been instrumental in sharing the importance of taking care of their environment to the local children. Situated on the small island of Nosy Be, volunteers regularly attend local schools in the surrounding small villages as well as take occasional trips to schools in the nearby town of Hell-ville. They have also held very successful Environment days; inviting children from a variety of schools to come to learn and play. We find that games all about the local animals and with colourful presentations, we help to bring important messages to the next generation in a fun and engaging manner.
A new step for Frontier is yet another important project in Tanzania. This time the project will look at the country’s wildlife. Although details may alter slightly, the project plans to mostly focus on human-wildlife interactions and socio-economic studies that will aid both local communities and conservation. One such project will investigate the behaviour of pied crows (Corvus albans) and house crows (Corvus splenden) and human interaction in Chole bay. The project is also hoping to discover more about hippo populations in the area. The bottom line is that all of our current and future projects strive to manage a balance between conservation work and building a system that supports local communities and environments.