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Ten Principles for Biocultural Conservation at the Southern Tip of the Americas: The Approach of the Omora Ethnobotanical Park

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Rozzi, Ricardo; Massardo, Francisca; Anderson, Christopher; Heidinger, Kurt; Slander, John A.
Journal: Ecology and Society
Volume: 11
Date: 2006
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/2398
Sector: Social Organization
Region: South America
Subject(s): environmental policy
environmental ethics
indigenous knowledge
Abstract: "Although there is general agreement among conservation practitioners about the need for (1) social involvement on the part of scientists; (2) interdisciplinary approaches; (3) working on local, regional, and global levels; and (4) implementing international agreements on biodiversity and environmental protection, a major challenge we face in conservation today is how to integrate and implement these multiple dimensions. Few researchers have actually offered hands-on examples for showing in practical terms how such integration can be accomplished. To address this challenge we present an innovative case study: the Omora Ethnobotanical Park, a long-term biocultural conservation initiative at the southern extreme of the Americas. Located near Puerto Williams (55�º S), Cape Horn Archipelago region, Chile, the Omora Park is a public-private reserve that provides material and conceptual foundations for three complementary conservation actions: (1) interdisciplinary scientific research; (2) informal and formal education, i.e., school, university, and training courses; and (3) biocultural conservation. The latter entails an actual reserve that protects biodiversity and the water quality of Puerto Williams' watershed, as well as programs on Yahgan traditional ecological knowledge and interdisciplinary activities, such as "field environmental ethics" and ecotourism, carried out in the reserve. Being at the "end of the world," and within one of the most remote and pristine ecoregions on the planet, Omora Park offers a "bio-cultural treasure." At the same time, its geographical and technological isolation presents a challenge for implementing and sustaining conservation actions. To achieve the general conservation goals, we have defined 10 principles that have guided the actions of Omora: (1) interinstitutional cooperation, (2) a participatory approach, (3) an interdisciplinary approach, (4) networking and international cooperation, (5) communication through the media, (6) identification of a flagship species, (7) outdoor formal and informal education, (8) economic sustainability and ecotourism, (9) administrative sustainability, and (10) research and conceptual sustainability for conservation. These principles have been effective for establishing the long-term Omora initiative, as well as involving multiple actors, disciplines, and scales. Upon these foundations, the Omora initiative has extended its local goals to the regional level through a successful 5-yr process in cooperation with the Chilean government to create the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, designated by UNESCO in June 2005, with the goal of establishing a long-term institutionalpolitical framework that promotes social well-being and biocultural conservation at the southernmost tip of the Americas."

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