What impact have you had on your clients and the tourism sector?
In 7 years we achieved the communitarian conservation of 3 natural ecosystems of strategic hydric relevance by making and effort and creating awareness on the proprietary communities:
The Juncal glacier is born in the Juncal River and it is the most important tributary of the Aconcagua river: their owners manage the “Parque Andino Juncal” in a sustainable manner by legally protecting more than 13.000 hectares of mountains threatened by non-sustainable mining and hydro electric projects. The site has been recently designated a RAMSAR site, due to its huge conservation of mountain glaciers and wetlands. http://parqueandinojuncal.cl
-Serranía del Ciprés Natural Sanctuary: makes possible that 106 families manage tourism initiatives in 1.100 hectares.
The Copin lake wetland ecological system, which includes a complex group of lakes and mountain springs of over 8.000 hectares over the 2.000 meters over sea level is at present protected by the hunting law and the 100 rural families combine livestock and tourism activities.
Our work is based on the recovery and value of these milestones through intervention processes and legal and formal validation, such as National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, tourist centers or routes, which enable to improve the quality of life of their own communities while preserving their natural and cultural heritage.
The three cases include economic initiatives focused on communitarian tourism. The organization of small supplementing service units allows providing tourists with interesting experiences in terms of contact with nature and communitarian roots. Tourists get to know the lifestyle of rural communities, as well as the problems faced by these communities and they are admired by the communities’ strength and wisdom to combine conservation and tourism management in a balanced manner.
The strategy of our organization has 3 successive&supplementing components that it has been implementing efficiently for several years. The 1st in intended to produce knowledge, thus it implies research. The 2nd proposes to assume the responsibility&thus it implies conservation. The 3rd supposes implementation capacities&thus it implies the following:
Research: increase knowledge of the natural&cultural conditions of the 3 ecosystems. Baseline surveys have been carried out, however these require to be intensified&its scope of scientific knowledge defined with better equipment& qualified professional support. Conservation: significant progress has been made in conservation terms at formal&legal levels; however there are important steps to take in term of authorization of operational&specific conservations procedures by involved communities.
In sustainable management, achievements are less noticeable, there is much to do in terms of creation of awareness&management abilities by the responsible communities& of implementation of a stable&successful model that manages to balance resources generation requirements for the communities, jointly with the conservation activities as requ
In terms of research, the consolidation of the Instituto de Estudios de Montaña, part of our organization with a team of scientists and highly qualified professionals and the corresponding technical equipment , that contributes with expertise from biology, glaciology Geography, ecology, and archeology and anthropology.
In terms of Conservation, it is expected to achieve other legal categories of conservation, protected by the law available to ensure stability and overcome the weaknesses inherent in a system that operates by economic domination. As long as new RAMSAR sites, new Wildlife Sanctuaries, new legal protection areas, these conservation opportunities are also consolidated.
Finally in terms of Management, the expectation is to increase the communities’ abilities to ensure their autonomy and above all sustainability of current experiences. This means achievements in terms of management abilities training, of articulation at internal group level, as well as with other local actors both public as well as private, of new participative leaderships, of insertion in local markets related to tourism at national and international levels, without loosing its autonomy or the contro
What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.
Since this is a strategy that combines research, conservation and sustainable management in a supplementing manner, achievements are assessed for each of them in successive phases of continuous improvement. However, the strategy stipulates a sequence that allows its progressive balanced development, as it has been the basis in previous years, in this regard it is considered that:
The first year the priority is focused on strengthening the research component, to the extent that the results are essential to successfully face the conservation objectives
The second year, the priority is focused on the conservation component, since this is the necessary basis to achieve the consolidation dimensions for effective management.
The third year, the priority is focused on the sustainable management component and on the authorization of solid and better qualified communitarian dynamics.
In this manner it is possible to start a new successful cycle of these successive and supplementing dimensions.
Local tourism groups offer mountain guiding services, accommodation, food, crafts, environmental education, birds and mountain animals watching (guanacos and others), natural water and springs births, archeological sites and routes. Tourists would not be able to access to all these service without the support from the communities, whose wisdom enables the survival of said high altitude and complex ecosystems. In this way, rural and livestock communities combine traditional activities with new opportunities offered by tourism in order to guarantee their existence in a sustainable and responsible manner.
In conclusion, this means the improvement of the quality of life of the communities, through the responsible and sustainable management of the communities’ natural wealth.
What would prevent your project from being a success?
Possible barriers to these undertakings are mainly related to external factors. In the 3 ecosystem in question, although lessened by the conservation and management measures achieved so far, there are potential mining investment projects which may endanger the achievements. This, however, may be part of a dynamic of negotiations with the companies that are potentially interested in intervening in said mountain areas. These, at the same time, could also (and partly they do) join the sustainable management experiences in said locations. Thus, a potential weakness may become strength. Other obstacles make reference to the lack of resources to develop the programmatic lines. Likewise, the lack of continuity in the actions carried out by our organization, due to potential difficulties to continue with our work.
More info about Problem: The same problem is faced by our organization, which has a an economic base by a small group of people who evidence high levels of commitment and carry out important volunteer contributions, although it lacks the necessary stability to contribute with the sustainability of these experiences. There are technical, professional, equipment and technical assistance needs, as well as spreading and development of collaboration networks which require to be solved for its consolidation.