New Ethno-Botany Education Project Favored by Chilean Science Commission

Senda Darwin, Omora’s sister NGO in Chiloé, recently received an “Explora” grant from the Chilean national science commission (CONICYT) to conduct an education program entitled: “Our green roots – discovering and valuing native flora and their traditional uses.” This 10 month program will include working directly with schools in several parts of Chile to learn about and communicate a broad range of experiences about native flora, including their medicinal, artistic, cultural, food and other uses. The knowledge acquired by students and instructors also will be published in a subsquent book on ethno-botany. Omora is proud to support this initiative, lending our partners in Chiloé the years of experience gained in Cape Horn linking the natural and cultural worlds that surround us.

Omora Student Implements Flagship Species for Cape Horn

woodpecker.jpgSince 2004, UMAG masters student Ximena Arango has worked in Puerto Williams to define and implement a “charismatic flagship” species that would promote conservation of old-growth forests in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. Arango, a native of Columbia, early on identified the Magellanic woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus) as a keystone species that was also very beloved and recognized by diverse social sectors of the local community.

Arango used her scholarship from the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (2004-2007) to position this species as a symbol that motivates the local community to participate in conservation in the subantarctic archipelago. To date, her work has inspired a host of woodpecker-oriented activities, including: a municipal-sponsored drawing contest for school children, various art expositions, postcards, calendars, cloth bags, and presentations, among others. To consolidate this initiative and project it “from the South”, in June 2008 the Omora Park will offer a training course, led by Ximena, to teach this methodology to other conservation initiatives in the region and throughout Chile.

To learn more about how the Omora Park is working to implement charismatic flagship species for conservation see the recently published article in Magallania entitled: “Discovery and implementation of the Magellanic woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus) as a charismatic flagship species for the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve.” Download the pdf by clicking here (in Spanish with English abstract).

Bellunesi National Park (Italy) Donates to Omora’s “Miniature Forest Garden”

logo bellunesi.gifIn 2006, the Omora Ethnobotanical Park and Bellunesi National Park (Italy) became “sister” parks. The collaboration initially included receiving a group of 15 students and authorities from Italy, including the director and president of Bellunesi N.P. Now, our Italian partners have made a donation of 3,000 Euros to the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity to support the implementation of the Miniature Forests of Cape Horn Garden, a new trail being implemented in the Omora Park to demonstrate to visitors the diversity, beauty and importance of these tiny plants. In June, the Omora Park will present this initiative in Italy as well in the context of the anniversary of Bellunesi National Park.

NT Daily News – Conservation Students Study Abroad

By Melissa Crowe

Eighteen students ventured to what they called the “end of the world” during the winter semester, joining theories of biology and philosophy to study conservation in Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams, Chile. “It’s kind of an odd trip to pick for just one credit,” Denton senior Kasi Petr said. “It’s a lot of being outside.” When people think of studying abroad, Patagonia does not usually come to mind, she said.

Kelli Moses, a Denton junior and Omora Sub-Antarctic Research Alliance and UNT Chile Program Assistant agrees… (continue reading the entire article).

OSARA Obtains Donation from BeX

photo birders.jpgThe American Birding Association program Birder’s Exchange (BeX) approved an application submitted by OSARA for UMAG master’s student Cristóbal Pizarro to obtain birding equipment to conduct his thesis on the sea birds of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve and their possible role as vectors that link marine and terrestrial ecosystems. The donation also proved useful in January as part of this year’s Tracing Darwin’s Path course for students involved in the elaboration of a new ethno-ecology book for which they had to obtain new photos and sound recordings of island birds.

New Lichen Expedition a Success

Lichen Expedition 2008.JPGA multi-national group of scientists, lead by Spanish lichenologist Dr. Leopoldo Sancho from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain, returned to the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve (CHBR) for a second major expedition in January. The trip continued work begun in 2005. This year the multidisciplinary team included taxonomists, geomorphologists, botanists, philosphers, UMAG masters students and UNT undergrads. The scientists and students navigated through the Northwest Arm of the Beagle Channel, studying principally the lichen flora found along recently receeded glacial valleys.

The taxanomic and ecological study will be linked to work done by Dr. Sancho and his colleagues in Antarctica and included the installation of a climate station in the Omora Park. Future work will continue to explore the effect of climate change and Antarctic-Subantarctic connections by using lichens. In addition, the team is helping Dr. Ricardo Rozzi, UMAG master’s student Yanet Medina and UNT undergrad Kelli Moses develop content for the narrative of the new “Garden of the Cape Horn Miniature Forest,” a trail being implemented in the Omora Park to bring this hidden aspect of biodiversity to tourists’ attention.

U. of Washington Graduate Students in the CHBR

During February, University of Washington Ph.D. Student Gus Jespersen will be implementing a novel study in the Omora Park, one that is being replicated as well in the Cascade Mountains of the Pacific Northwest (USA). Gus’ work is of particular interest to the researchers of the CHBR as he is looking at the role of lichens in influencing the development of vascular plants in high-Andean sites, above treeline.

This is not the first U.W. research being conducted in the CHBR. For the past 3 years, the Omora Park has also received students Aaron Clark and Liz Addis, working with Dr. Rodrigo Vasquez on the ecophysiology of the rufous-collared sparrow (Zonotrichia capensis).

OSARA President to Give Keynote Address at UNT

Anderson NYYC.jpgOSARA President Dr. Christopher Anderson will give the keynote address at the University of North Texas Biology Graduate Student Association’s Annual Symposium. The invitation to participate in the “Annual Research Day in Life Sciences” continues the existing work between OSARA and UNT and offers a new possibility to strengthen collaborations with science graduate students.

Anderson’s talk, entitled “Biocultural Conservation: A ‘Southern’s’ Perspective from the South” will focus on the history and existing programs in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve. Dr. Anderson will also use this case study and his personal experience to show how students interested in science and conservation can create and implement meaningful programs and initiatives, not just at the ends of the earth, but anywhere they find themselves.

Peace Boat Coming to the CHBR

peace boat.jpgDuring March 2008, the Peace Boat will be passing through the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve (CHBR). Organizers have asked to learn about the research, education and conservation activities carried out at the Omora Park and in the CHBR. So, while in port at Punta Arenas on the 15th, passengers will meet the researchers and students working at the University of Magallanes, hear a talk from OSARA President Dr. Christopher Anderson, and visit the urban wetland “Humedal 3 Puentes,” whose conservation is being promoted by local authorities and citizens alike.

The Peace Boat‘s mission to “build a culture of peace around the world” takes it to ports-of-call from Vietnam to Oman and Antarctica to Alaska. At each location, organizers link visitors with non-profit organizations working on key issues of poverty, the environment and human rights.

Patagonia Expedition Race Returns to CHBR

logo expedition race.jpgIn representation of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve (CHBR), Dr. Christopher Anderson was asked to speak at the opening ceremonies of the 8th Edition of the Patagonia Expedition Race, the world’s #1 ranked adventure competition of its kind.

Dr. Anderson pointed out to the participants from 11 countries, regional authorities and national and international press that the scientists of the CHBR actively seek out collaborators with initaitives that help demonstrate the uniqueness and value of subantarctic ecosystems.

As such, this elite annual race, held in the Magallanes Region, helps to communicate the singularity of the austral archipelago and shows how a local sustainable “tourism” activity can take advantage not only of the region’s amazing geography, but do so with respect for its natural and cultural heritage. The race will end again this year in Puerto Williams with participants and reporters visiting the Omora Park.

Letter from “Cape Horn” on NPR

Listen to NPR All Things Considered‘s hosts Michele Norris and Robert Siegel read from listeners’ e-mails, including responses to coverage of Super Tuesday, and a series that parsed the candidates’ positions on four major issues.

Also hear one native North Carolinian, living in Cape Horn, reflect on an interview with Franklin McCain, a Greensboro student who protested a whites-only Woolworth lunch counter in 1960.

OSARA and UNT Strengthen Collaboration

kelli.jpgOSARA and the University of North Texas’s Chile Program Office have formalized their collaborative efforts in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve this semester by jointly hiring Kelli Moses as a Project Assistant who will help coordinate the courses, events and programs being carried out in southern Chile.

Kelli is currently finishing her B.S. in Biology at the UNT, and she first came to Puerto Williams as a student in the first ever Tracing Darwin’s Path course in 2006. Since then, she has been an active participant in the implementation of the Chile Program Office at UNT. She is also conducting her thesis on the relationship of aquatic mosses and macroinvertebres in the CHBR, just coming back recently from a boat-based expedition to the Northwest Arm of the Beagle Channel.

We welcome Kelli, who brings to this initiative her own personal enthusiasm and dedication, as well as formally helping to consolidate the collaboration that UNT and OSARA have been developing since 2006.