grantees » Cristina Farah de Tófoli

Cristina  Farah de Tófoli, Brazil

Cristina Tófoli is a Brazilian environmentalist passionate about natural conservation. Immediately after her graduation in 2004, she joined the IPÊ – Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (Institute for Ecological Research), where she started working in different project areas such as environmental education, landscape ecology, wildlife research and conservation. In 2009, Cristina moved to the Brazilian Amazon region to work in the project that is now her main achievement: coordinating the Mermaids of the Amazon: Amazonian Manatee Conservation Project in the Lower Rio Negro Region. She explains that the project uses the manatee as a flagship species in order to achieve biodiversity conservation of the Lower Rio Negro Region in the Amazon forest. “We do research but thinking of how to create policies by using the information gathered in practice”. Cristina also coordinates public awareness initiatives in ecology and forest conservation. She emphasizes the importance of education and communication to achieve this goal: “We need to work for many years, slowly, to change people´s vision. In this context, educating children is essential as well as communicating with the community, schools and also with researchers from different realities”.

In order to improve important skills in the area of biodiversity research and conservation, Cristina used the JWH Initiative grant to participate in the Manatee Research and Conservation Short-Term Training in Florida, USA, and in the training Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders (EWCL). She also participated in two international conferences: The 19th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammalogy and the 5th International Sirenian Symposium. Besides improving her leadership and management capacities, Cristina believes the main outcome of these trainings was networking and the possibility to share experiences with people from different countries: “The most interesting thing was to be able to experience how other research organizations work, to see their realities”. As a result of her training with the JWH initiative, she now has an effective multidisciplinary approach which has “improved [her] abilities to deal with research staff and other groups to become the Coordinator of IPÊ´s Lower Rio Negro Conservation Program”. Cristina´s dedication to the Manatee project and her commitment to a sustainable environment is astounding, and she hopes to continue to strengthen her organization for the conservation of the environment.