First meeting brings together experiences for the conservation of Chile’s biocultural heritage

After being formed in 2021, members of the Chilean Biosphere Reserve Network – an entity framed in a global UNESCO program – met in person for the first time in Curacautín, La Araucanía region. In order to propose collective governance mechanisms, promote local development in favor of conservation and highlight the role of new generations, among other objectives, managers and representatives of various organizations exchanged experiences and learned about the realities of various Reserves.

Currently, there are ten zones established as Biosphere Reserves [1]in Chile, which reach 17.2 million hectares located in twelve regions of the country. Local managers, young people, government institutions, NGOs, educational institutions and management committees that make up this network, as well as representatives of UNESCO and other territorial actors were part of the first meeting of this instance, which sought to articulate exchanges, dialogues and projections to give continuity and governance to this alliance organized by the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) in 2021.

Fundación Mar Adentro was one of the organizations invited as a collaborator to these conferences held between January 8 and 10, since Bosque Pehúen – our area under private protection located in La Araucanía Andina – is part of the Araucarias Biosphere Reserve, one of the territorial nodes that constitute this network. In this context, members of the FMA Conservation area attended the meeting to become part of a series of activities aimed at “reviewing the state of progress, sharing learning, evaluating results and agreeing on common points that contribute to the development of the activities of each reserve”, according to the roadmap for this meeting.

In this regard, the FMA Conservation Director, Amerindia Jaramillo, valued the meeting in terms of its potential for “articulation to address the shared objectives and challenges of the reserves” and also as a time to exchange experiences and discuss diverse territorial realities. Among the achievements of this meeting, he highlighted the importance of “establishing networks, generating legitimate collective governance and contributing to the understanding of the functioning of this type of conservation initiatives.”

Likewise, Amerindia explained that among the activities of the conference, each reserve presented its current state and the projects in development, which allowed a vision regarding the conservation strategies and community participation that take place in the different areas of each Reserve. In this sense, he highlighted the role of privately managed protected areas that are part of the network – such as the case of Bosque Pehuén – in terms of “they allow the conservation work of the State to be amplified, they contribute to local governance and conservation. and restoration of local socioecosystems”, among other areas. 

Good practices for human well-being and connection with biocultural heritage

The Network of Biosphere Reserves is attached to the objectives of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MaB) program in the context of Iberomab – corresponding to the national committees and reserves of Ibero-America and the Caribbean –, an initiative that seeks to increase the ways to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable development of local economies, based on the ecosystem services that the territories provide to contribute to human well-being. At the same time, it is aimed at “conserving biological and cultural diversity, as well as providing logistical support through research, monitoring, education and training”, in accordance with the principles considered by UNESCO.

 

In this regard, Ricardo Quilaqueo, Head (I) of the Participation and Linkage Section for Conservation and Social Welfare of CONAF, delved into the role of protected areas such as Reserves in terms of how they function as “observatories of good practices in the territories” while connecting and nurturing the senses of “identity and culture strongly linked to nature” in the communities that inhabit these areas.

 

Likewise, Quilaqueo highlighted the role of these protection figures as sources of empowerment of citizen movements aimed at the defense and conservation of the environment. As an example, he mentioned the cases of the Campana Peñuelas Biosphere Reserve , where an active movement emerged to protect water and aquatic ecosystems. Likewise, he highlighted the work carried out in the Laguna San Rafael Biosphere Reserve for its connection with the defense of glaciers, as well as that the Reserve Cape Horn that has promoted the preservation of the indigenous culture of those territories. In this regard, it should also be noted that the network in Chile is home to nine of the ten indigenous peoples recognized by the State.

New generations, commitments and projections

In addition to representatives of the ten biosphere reserves of Chile, key actors from protected areas, civil society organizations, UNESCO and CONAF, young managers and environmental activists linked to various local realities framed in these territories also participated in the conference. Thus, in the presentations, initiatives were announced such as the Ibero-American Congress of Biosphere Reserves held in Honduras, which focused on new perspectives for the contribution of young people to the IberoMaB Network and coordinated local environmental protection projects. by youth groups.

Thus, this aspect of the meeting was aimed at laying the foundations for the creation of a Youth Network of the Biosphere Reserves of Chile. Regarding the role of these generations, Amerindia Jaramillo pointed out that managing instances to establish networks of intergenerational collaboration is essential when it comes to “giving continuity to these spaces and nourishing the management of the territories with new energy.” For his part, Ricardo Quilaqueo assured that the reserves offer a place where different generations can “share, generate synergies and collaborate mutually.”

Nearly 200 people participated in this unprecedented in-person meeting, an occasion in which experiences, actions and projects to be developed with a view to 2025 were shared and guidelines of the MaB National Committee were prepared, which will include representatives of Biosphere Reserves and indigenous peoples; forming activities and dialogues that contribute to creating and strengthening alliances between public, private, education and civil society institutions, as well as reflecting on ways to promote decentralization in the protection of nature.

The collaboration of these key actors will also be essential when implementing the new law that creates the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Service and the National System of Protected Areas (SBAP) in Chile, the local context in which the challenge is set. regional. This was an instance to collaboratively face the challenges of the current socio-ecological crisis.

[1]Biosphere reserves are UNESCO -recognized “learning places for sustainable development” , where transdisciplinary approaches are tested to understand and manage changes and interactions between social and ecological systems. The global network currently consists of 748 biosphere reserves in 134 countries, including 23 transboundary biosphere reserves.