Managers of marine protected areas meet to delve into conservation

Managers of marine protected areas meet to delve into conservation 1140 758 The Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea

Surrounded by whales and penguins, the first in-person stage of the Course for Managers of Marine Protected Areas of the Southern Cone was carried out in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. This stage, lead by governmental and non-governmental institutions from Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, seeks to strengthen their capacity for the effective management of coastal and marine protected areas (MPA).

Today there is greater awareness regarding the need to protect and preserve the most rich and diverse seas, which sustain coastal communities all over the world. Consequently, the number of MPAs has increased, with emblematic cases such as Chile where, including the areas announced at the International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC) a month ago, more than 40% of its exclusive economic zone will be protected. Or Argentina, which would incorporate two new MPAs following the announcement made by the government last September.

But protecting an area depends not only on a decision made on paper, but on the implementation of management plans and actions aimed at its effective conservation according to specific standards. To achieve that, it is necessary to have skilled people able to manage marine protected areas and to assess their effectiveness. That’s how the regional Course for MPA Managers was born, which trains twenty professionals from Chile, Argentina and Uruguay through virtual classes, directed reading, workshops and visits to coastal-marine protected areas.

 

Sharing experiences

 

During the first week of October, students met in Puerto Madryn, Chubut, to delve into their experiences and learn about conservation challenges. “The course was excellent, I learned a lot and I think it is something really powerful to train public institutions in the management of protected areas,” highlighted Eugenia Valdebenito, of Directemar Chile.

“What was really interesting about the course was the explanation of the tools used to evaluate management effectiveness, and the theory of project development and management,” highlighted Pablo Fernando Martínez, from the National Parks Administration of Argentina, Northern Patagonia. “The virtual part was very interesting, and the face-to-face part was also entertaining, as it counted with the presence of all participants. So I appreciate the possibility of taking this course,” he added.

Irene Ramírez, from the Department of Protected Wild Areas of Conaf in the Magallanes Region, valued the opportunity to share experiences with professionals from other countries, something that “strengthened the knowledge we have on marine areas.”

For Santiago Krapovickas, member of The Conservation Land Trust (CLT) and Project Management teacher, this has been a mutual learning experience. “I have learned a lot from the students, each one is a specialist in some subject and brings a load of impressive experiences.”

The second face-to-face meeting will take place between November 5 and 10 in Las Cruces, on the central coast of Chile, to continue delving into MPAs management effectiveness and project management.

This unprecedented course is organized by the Wildlife Conservation Society-Chile (WCS), World Wildlife Fund-Chile (WWF) and the Argentine Wildlife Foundation. The Course was driven by the Forum for the Conservation of the Patagonian Sea and Areas of Influence together with the National Parks Administration of Argentina, the Ministry of Environment of Chile and the Ministry of Housing, Land Planning and Environment of Uruguay. The sponsors were the World Wildlife Fund-Chile, Foundation WAITT, Oceans5 and Aluminio Argentino (ALUAR).