Through her environmental theme park, the visionary Mexican environmentalist Maritza Morales Casanova hopes to teach a generation of young people to care for the Yucatán’s fragile environment.
The Yucatán Peninsula where Maritza Morales Casanova lives is under pressure from two million inhabitants and surging numbers of visitors. Since the age of 10, she has cared about the environment, launching the award-winning advocacy group HUNAB. Now, driven by a sense of urgency over the need for the next generation to safeguard their natural resources, she is building an environmental education theme park, Ceiba Pentandra.
Engaging young people in caring for their environment is essential if we are to... ensure sustainable development for new generations.
Through persistence, Morales Casanova opened the doors of the park in 2013 with about a third of the infrastructure in place. Since then, she estimates that 1,200 children have been engaged in educational activities there, and, indirectly, thousands more have benefited, results that she attributes to the effects of winning a Rolex Award. A recent government grant has helped her complete the open-air classrooms. The National Geographic Emerging Explorer’s prize she won in 2014 will help fund a library and laboratory. More government funding and a fund-raising campaign will pay for a museum of biodiversity. This will all take time she says, but “I know I am going to devote my life to this.”
Number of children and others who have already benefited from activities at the environmental theme park
Size of the park in square metres
Age of children welcomed at Ceiba Pentandra