Landau, 25 November 2021.
The last 2 years have been very turbulent in Chile. In October 2019, millions of Chileans protested against social inequality and demanded a new constitution. The mass protests led to a referendum and elections of deputies for a constituent assembly. Presidential elections were held in Chile last weekend. A new parliament and parts of the senate were also elected. The election of the new president will be decided in a run-off on 19 December. Chile is undergoing a political and social upheaval with an uncertain outcome. This also applies to the impact on the protection of the environment and nature.
The proponents of the mining and port projects "Cruz Grande" and "Dominga" have been put on the defensive by the revelations of recent months (see reports on this page). Therefore, despite all imponderables, the chances are actually favourable at the moment to finally push through the long overdue protection zone for the valuable ecosystem "Archipelago Humboldt". SPHENISCO is trying to support the favourable development through 2 measures. As a founding member of the Alianza Humboldt, which campaigns for the protection of the "Archipelago Humboldt" in northern Chile, the association has started the petition "Humboldt penguins finally need protection" together with "Save the Rainforest". This is intended to lend weight to the demand for a protected area at the international level as well. Currently, around 68,000 people around the world are already supporting this demand. We hope to gain over 100,000 supporters in the near future.
Since our staff member Nancy Duman is so to speak overburdened with work and the situation around the "Humboldt Archipelago" is so explosive, SPHENISCO is hiring another staff member, Karen Quezada, in November to expand the education and public relations work in the Coquimbo Region. Karen Quezada studied tourism management with an additional degree in international ecotourism. She has worked for various institutions and associations, including CONAF (Chilean Protected Areas Authority), and therefore has many years of experience in the planning, management and control of protected areas. Among other things, her tasks included organising and shaping the cooperation of the nature conservation authority with the state tourism authority (Sernatur) and the communities.
Nancy Duman and Karen Quezada want to and should continue the previous activities and projects. We remember: Together with other conservationists, Nancy Duman has helped to build and maintain environmental networks such as "Defensa Ambiental" and "Alianza Humboldt" in recent years. In seminars and conferences - online and in presence - she and others have tirelessly drawn attention to the threatening destruction of the valuable ecosystem "Archipel Humboldt" with a wide variety of actions, including demonstrations. For years, she has accompanied the legal disputes about the valuable ecosystem, has repeatedly pointed out the impending destruction to politicians, authorities and citizens and has spoken out in the discussion about a new constitution on the topic of environmental protection and nature conservation. In this way, it has contributed to the fact that port and mining projects in the Coquimbo region are currently rejected by a majority.
These successes are to be secured and expanded with new issues and projects. The two staff members are planning the following initiatives:
- citizen participation in the design of the marine protected area "Archipelago Humboldt".
The aim of this initiative is for concerned citizens of the region (fishermen, shellfish farmers, tourism experts, seaweed collectors, indigenous people, etc.) to organise themselves and formulate and represent scientifically sound demands for a "Multiple Use Marine Protected Area". In this way, the foundations for the future management of the protected area are to be developed and its acceptance increased.
- public relations work "Research for Survival".
In October, studies on population numbers, breeding success and foraging of the Humboldt penguins began throughout Chile, with a focus on the Coquimbo Region.
- educational work via the radio.
With the help of a regular programme on the topic of the "Humboldt Archipelago" on a popular radio station in the Coquimbo Region, a larger public is to be informed about the importance of the valuable ecosystem in an entertaining way. The broadcasts are also intended to test a new format of environmental education.
- environmental education in the community of La Higuera.
In Peru, ACOREMA has been successfully providing environmental education for many years on behalf of SPHENISCO in regions where Humboldt penguins live. In the coastal villages near the "Humboldt Archipelago", there is no such offer so far. Karen Quezada is therefore to initiate an educational programme for schools in the community of La Higuera and realise it in consultation with those responsible.
These activities and projects strengthen the environmental and species protection efforts in the Coquimbo Region, they help the inhabitants of the coastal villages to defend their livelihoods and contribute - we hope - to the urgently needed multiple use marine protected area finally being designated and made sustainable.
translated by Claudia Wirth
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