Friday, September 20

Private Protected Areas Congress, Chile

In representation of Fundación Pro-Bosque, Eric Horstman participated in the 10th Latin American Congress of Private Reserves and Original Peoples held in Valdivia, Chile, August 19th through 23rd.  Eric made two presentations at the Congress, the first was "The Cerro Blanco Protected Forest: A Private Conservation Initiative Conserving and Restoring the Ecuadorian Dry Tropical Forest" and the second was "The Biological Corridor Between the Cerro Blanco and Chongón Colonche Protected Forests: A Conservation Initiative With Private Property Owners" in representation of Jaime Camacho of The Nature Conservancy. Both presentations were well received by the participants. The Congress brought together more than 300 representatives of both governmental and non governmental organizations, working in private protected area conservation, from several countries in Central and South America, the Caribbean as well as North America.  

The themes of the Congress included the following:

- Public politics and incentives related to both private protected areas and original peoples

- Original Peoples: worldwide much of the remaining natural areas are found on indigenous people's lands. Valdivia is located in an area where the Mapuche indigenous group live and representatives of the Mapuches as well as Aymara from Bolivia and other indigenous groups actively participated in the Congress

- Productive Activities: different types of initiatives (agriculture, land purchase, handicrafts, etc) to help finance biodiversity conservation

- Sustainable Tourism

- Natural Laboratories for Investigation

- Education and Rescue of Natural Patrimony.

Jim Barborak, one of the Congress keynote speakers, made an important point, using the analogy of a table needing more than one leg to be fully supported, that for private protected areas to be sustainable they must not focus exclusively on tourism, but also on these other factors. 

The next Congress will be held in Costa Rica.

Wednesday, September 18

Experiences in England, by Denis Mosquera

Editors Note: At the invitation of our partner organization World Land Trust, Denis Mosquera traveled to the UK to represent Fundación Pro-Bosque in the World Land Trust stand in the annual UK Bird Fair. Here are some of Denis’ thoughts about his experience.

If you never visit a place you will never find out what it´s really like. And throughout my life I have seen many representations of cities, towns, and ecosystems in England, at different times and at different climates, and have always thought that it seems a very nice country. However my expectations were easily surpassed the first day of being in England, which turned out to be a big learning step in many aspects, including language, society, birding development, history, ecotourism, transportation, and many others which I have not named because it is never ending. From the first day at the Bird Fair at the Rutland Nature Reserve I realized that there were many people who thought the same thing about Ecuador. For them visiting my country was also a dream which produced the same impact for them as it did for me. This gave me great confidence to introduce myself as a representative of an Ecuadorian conservation organization.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Bird Fair was that most of the public with whom I had interaction with were aware of the most famous places in Ecuador for birding, wildlife and cuisine, however a good percentage of them did not know for example that our dry forest Cerro Blanco is so close to Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador, or the fact that the Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador. These topics were some of my favorites in the conversations I had with visitors and exhibitors at the Bird Fair 2013.

This event allowed me to experience many different cultures and perspectives, all framed around the world of birds. Subjects covered included bird guides worldwide, multinational bird watching companies, conservation institutions, art, technology etc. I am sure this has allowed me to open my mind and expand my thoughts on all topics of interest to me. I am also sure this experience will help tremendously in the developments taking place at Cerro Blanco Protected Forest in regards to bird watching and ornithological research in the dry forest. For example, I made many contacts with various institutions, such as bird watching companies, that might be interested in including Cerro Blanco in their itineraries.

Sharing all that time with the World Land Trust team was very rewarding for me in every way and I appreciate all their patience and concern for the organization of my activities, accommodation, luggage transfer and everything they did to help me. Personally, I also think that thanks to them my English is about 200% better than before traveling to England, which was my first time in an English-speaking country.

It was very interesting to do some bird watching while I was in Halesworth, where the office of the World Land Trust is located. And I thank Dan Bradbury for being such a wonderful guide, for the places we visited and the large number of species that we saw. I think it was interesting for him too, to see my excitement at the most common birds, like the beautiful Magpie.