Green Gospel: faith and the conservation of the Critically Endangered Macaca nigra

Selamatkan Yaki is a research, conservation and education programme focussed on protecting the last remaining populations of Sulawesi crested black macaques (Macaca nigra).
Following recommendations from stakeholder workshops in key areas for M. nigra conservation, we developed a Local Ambassador Programme to build capacity for conservation in North Sulawesi, a pre-dominantly Christian province where religion plays an important role in people’s lives. Previous research identified that bushmeat trade generally peaks around Christian celebrations (Lee, et al. 2005), and that belief is a key attribute for fostering proenvironmental behaviour. We adapted Stone’s (1997) 2-step training approach for our focus on empowering influential religious leaders and students through our Green Gospel project. Through participatory workshops we provide conservation materials and education resources developed by the SY team, such as the Sunday School syllabus and resource book, and inspirational videos. The workshops aim to: 1) identify connections between Christianity and conservation, 2) develop conservation materials for church implementation, and 3) initiate collaboration between conservation projects and churches.
Our team also facilitate participants in group discussions to identify environmental issues in and around their congregations and brainstorm about how to mitigate these issues by linking conservation activities to suitable Bible verses and messages. In line with both our Green Gospel project and Local Ambassador programme, within the next year we aim to expand our outreach to Christian universities, to engage with young trainee religious leaders and promote them as ‘Green Gospel Pioneers’.
With support through LINCZ our local team will be empowered to strengthen relationships with church leaders as well as Christian-based universities for further implementation of the Green Gospel project. We will expand the local ambassador program to church youth forums, promote the inspiring ‘Green Gospel Pioneers’ and implement our unique interactive Sunday School church syllabus.