During a recent visit to Chile in October, a high level delegation of authorities from the University of North Texas, including Provost Wendy Wilkins, Associate Vice President for International Affairs Earl Gibbons and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Warren Burrgren, had the opportunity to visit the University of Magallanes in Punta Arenas and the Omora Park in Puerto Williams to better define the relationship of UNT to the biocultural conservation initiative in southern Chile. After meeting with the Rector and Vice-Rectors of the UMAG, it was decided to strengthen a bi-national effort, which will include a Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program Office at both universities, international field courses, student and professor exchanges, a joint editorial line and interdisciplinary field research.
The Chilean Ministry of Economy, through its Commission for Innovation, has awarded the Omora Park a $500,000 grant to implement “Tourism with a Hand Lens“ as a specialty tourism offering for the subantarctic and Antarctic regions. According to Carlos Alvarez, executive vicepresident of the fund, “These projects have the objective of addressing the challenges related to innovation in specialty tourism in Chile. We hope that each of these proposals, found throughout the length of our entire contry, contributes to the development of distinctive, sustainable and high quality tourism offerings related to our natural and cultural patrimony.”
Since 2001, researchers in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve have focused on the diversity of mosses, lichens and liverworts found in what Dr. Ricardo Rozzi has termed the “miniature forests of Cape Horn.” In 2004, Rozzi and his collaborators began to promote “tourism with a hand lens” as a way to transfer this potentially esoteric information to development via tourism. Today, these efforts have been highlighted in numerous important newspaper articles, travel magazines and television documentaries. The grant given by the Ministry of Economy demonstrates the major committment from the Chilean Government to this initiative, as well as its ability to ally itself with important local and regional tourism companies, who must provide 30% in matching funds. Dr. Francisca Massardo, director of the project, says “This initiative, which we have developed in conjunction with local and regional tourism operators, is a tremendous opportunity to consolidate the years of efforts of the park to link research and society through ecotourism.”
We are pleased to announce that the Omora Ethnobotanical Park and Dr. Ricardo Rozzi are the 2008 recipients of a prestigious international award given by the Resilience Alliance and the Foundation for Scientific Symbiosis. This recognition highlights the relevance of our small initiative that was born in Cape Horn and is now projected to regional, national and international scales.
The Science and Practice of Ecology and Society Award is an annual recognition given to the individual or organization that is the most effective in bringing transdisciplinary science of the interactions of ecology and society into practice. Nominations are accepted from around the world (click here for information about previous recipients). The award consists of 1,000 € and an article in the journal Ecology and Society, written by the sponsors of the application. The application of Dr. Rozzi and the Omora Park was prepared by Drs. Mary Kalin, Gene Hargrove, Harold Mooney, Peter Raven and Christopher Anderson. This prestigious list of sponsors are themselves the winners of the Volvo Environment Award (Kalin), the BBVA Prize for Conservation in Latin America (Kalin and the 10 researchers associated with the IEB, including Rozzi) and the Tyler Award (Mooney and Raven).
UNT News Service article.
Resilience Alliance article.