Since September 2008, Rodrigo Molina has worked as the Manager of the Omora Park, financed by the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity to help implement one of the three Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research Sites in Chile. A veterinarian by training, Rodrigo is currently finishing a Masters in Conservation at the University of Chile, using the Róbalo watershed as a model for the creation of a management plan that harmonizes use and conservation in association with criteria from various governmental agencies such as the General Direction of Water and the Agriculture and Livestock Service. However, Rodrigo is also a sculptor and was recently notified that his project entitled “Sub-Antarctic Inhabitant” was favored for funding by the Regional Art Council. The project will consist of a series of sculptures and engravings that reflect the experience of living in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve.
Recently, the Chilean Fulbright Commission announced the creation of “regional” awards that will be available to select centers of excellence deemed capable of participating in this prestigious scholarship program. Fortunately, the Masters of Science in Subantarctic Conservation Program, coordinated by the University of Magallanes in assocation with the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity and the University of North Texas, was one of only 4 centers in Chile which will compete for the 2-3 Science Initiative scholarships to be provided annually. According to Dr. Christopher Anderson, Magallanes Regional Delegate for the Chilean Fulbright Commission, “the inclusion in this group is not only a high recongition of the quality of the work being conducted in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve by the UMAG’s graduate students, but also offers a new opportunity to strengthen the international interaction of the students and scientists working in the Omora Park.”
Since 2000, the University of Magallanes (UMAG) has been soliciting a governmental lease for the headwaters of the Róbalo River to complete the Omora Park’s mission to protect the watershed that provides drinking water to Puerto Williams. In a 17:1 vote in favor, the regional council of Magallanes approved on Monday this request, noting the importance of this iniative for the town and also the region and country. The study and protection of the Róbalo Watershed is also being re-enforced by an agreement that is being negociated with the General Direction of Waters, part of the Ministry of Public Works, which administers water rights in Chile to ensure that this is one of the founding pilot “conservation watersheds” in the country, which also has the added value of being incoporated as one of the Long-Term Socio-Ecological Resaerch Sites (www.ieb-chile.cl/ltser).
The Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB) has provided a doctoral dissertation support award to Tamara Contador, Ph.D. student at the University of North Texas (UNT) who is working with Drs. James Kennedy (UNT), Ricardo Rozzi (UNT-IEB-UMAG) and Christopher Anderson (UNT-IEB-UMAG) on a stream ecology project in the Robalo River watershed. The award (approximately $1,200) will aid in the development of Tamara’s dissertation in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve and helps to re-enforce the network of institutions, graduate students and projects encompassed by the Chilean Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research Network, coordinated by the IEB, and the Omora Alliance’s Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program, coordinated by UNT and UMAG.