Environmental Education Programme

Maria Teresa de Jesus Gouveia, Carmelita Santoro Bottino, Maria Manuela Mattos Rueda, Maryane Vieira Saisse, Márcia Salgueiro M. T. Wenzel, e Ana Lúcia Duque Alfaia.

Rio De Janeiro Botanic Garden Rersearch Institute
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Home | Contents | Environmnetal Education Programme | “Linnea in Monet’s Garden” | Amateur Naturalist |“Animals and Plants - Partnership in Nature” | Environmental Interpretation Programme

Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden Research Institute, for about eight years, has been following the assumptions published in “The Botanic Gardens Conservation Strategy” (V.H. Heywood, 1989). The author states that the botanic gardens and Arboreta in the world provide unique opportunities for the education of anlarge number of visitors. So, their objective should be to create comprehension and conscioness in relation to the conservation and the development of plant resources methods, as well as the need for them. He also considers that every Botanic Garden should have a written Education Plan, in which the different target groups, the central messages directed to each one of them and the means and activities involved with their understanding are identified.

The Environmental Education Programme of Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden Research Institute is institutionalised and at present developed through two Projects: “Conhecendo Nosso Jardim” (“Knowing our Garden”) and “Laboratório Didático” (“Didactical Laboratory”).

These Projects have been developed accordingly to the guidelines established at the Tbilisi Conference for the practice of Environmental Education:

The “Knowing our Garden” project, the first one conceived and developed by the interdisciplinary staff of the Institution - which constitutes the Environmental Education Group - aims to provide the teachers with the necessary information for the practice of educational activities when they visit the Arboretum with their students.

The project is development through the presentation of didactics itineraries, which include information on environmental, cultural and historical of the Arboretum, in its 54 hectares of managed area.

At each stop of the itinerary, additional information on the botanical characterization of the specimens or scientific collections found at the Arboretum is supplied and, whenever possible, suggestions about sensitives didactics activities are given. The itineraries are offered through a training program given by the technical team from the Environmental Education Group. The training consists of following itineraries in the Arboretum with information on the various fields of knowledge (natural sciences, arts, anthropology, among others) and suggestions to the teachers on ways to develop Environmental Education activities with their students.

The first itinerary produced was called “Roteiro Básico” (“Basic Route”): while following a given itinerary, information about the history of the Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden, the landscape planning of the Arboretum, the remarkable botanical species, the greenhouses, the monuments, the public use regulation and suggestions of activities to be developed are supplied. This route was selected because it was the one most looked for and representative of the Garden, as it includes aspects relating to the foundation of the Botanic Garden - 190 years ago - and allows a general view of it’s organization.

As support material, the teachers can borrow a videotape - “Histories of the Botanic Garden” - in which, by means of creative and amusing language, its history and role as a research, natural resources conservation, education, and entertainment institution is narrated. Teachers are also provide with the “Caderno I - Roteiro Básico”, a booklet which includes the description of the itinerary, with a selection of species identified both by their common and scientific names, botanical family, origin and/or occurrence, general characteristics and additional and didactic information considered to be of interest to teachers and students. The material also includes a map of the botanic garden and there is a chapter on explanations about the institution’s public use regulation.

The training on the Basic Route is offered to private and public (Kindergarten, Elementary and High) school teachers of all academic areas, twice a week, on Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, in three-hour sessions.

After this training the teachers are considered partners of the Environmental Education Group, receiving a participation certificate, which is used to schedule visits and other activities promoted.

As a Project, it can only be considered as such if methodological processes procedures are included. It is regularly evaluated by the staff, both through the analysis of the information provided by the teacher during his visit and through the “Evaluation Card”, which integrates the “Caderno I - Roteiro Básico”. In loco observations are also carried out as evaluation tools.

The second booklet, in the course of conclusion, will deal with a Kindergarten sensitising itinerary. Sensitising, didactic and amusing activities to be developed in different places of the Arboretum are proposed, and the aim is to reach a very significant school segment. Others didactic itineraries will address ecosystems present in the Arboretum, such as the Atlantic and the Amazon Forests.

The “Didactical Laboratory” Project, conceived by the Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden’s Environmental Education Group was meant to be a space where the young public would be able to develop playful, creative and educational activities.

The Didactical Laboratory aims to raise the users’ sensitivity towards the surrounding environment, to have them appreciate contact and communion with natural resources, to foster opportunities for users to critically reflect on environmental issues, and to diffuse scientific knowledge.

The laboratory was conceived to be directly used by children and youngsters from ages 4 to 14; during school year it is mostly used by school groups.

The project also intended to show teachers that, through the knowledge of practices and procedures, they can apply and develop these with their students, in their classroom place.

The project begins with the choice of a theme, which becomes the basis for the creation of the space ambience - the Didactical Laboratory - and for the development of the activities. The pedagogical resources used are story telling, botanical observation by means of optic equipment, didactic games, among others. These are combined with outdoor activities such as botanical specimen observation and sensitising practices. All the activities are based on the concepts which guide the environment and education professionals.

The project began in March 1997 and three themes have been developed until August 1998. These are usually based on juvenile literature, as the Laboratory has a specialized library for environmental issues.


“Linnea in Monet’s Garden”

Through this theme plant biology, existence and conservation importance of plants and of Botanic Gardens were some of the subjects developed. The concepts developed were germination and floristic diversity.


“Amateur Naturalist”

Through sensitising activities, the aim here was to show that human curiosity and the use of senses - hearing, sight, touch and smell - are fundamental elements which, together with research and knowledge, allow scientific perception. The development of this theme also allowed the visitors to recognize the Botanic Garden as a research centre. Food chain, naturalism, natural selection, botanical taxonomy and ethics were the concepts developed.


“Animals and Plants - Partnership in Nature”

Through the use of fauna and flora elements found in the Arboretum, activities allowing the knowledge of their interactions were developed. Co-operation, dispersion, biological diversity, species extinction, ant-plant interactions and pollination were the concepts developed. The fourth theme, which will begin in October, will be the water, particularly the river waters, an environmental reality very close to most people. It will be developed through the historical relationship between man and river waters.

Environmental Interpretation Programme


Copyright 1999 NBI