Written by Meredith Gutowski/WHSRN
At noon on 20 April, the community of Primavera in the southern Chilean Province of Tierra del Fuego is celebrating the grand opening of the Bahía Lomas Center! This initiative, many years in the making, was launched jointly by the Municipality of Primavera, the University of Santo Tomás (through its Faculty of Sciences), and the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences (USA).
Centro Bahía Lomas, Tierra del Fuego, Chile/ © Ricardo Matus
Located at one of the gateways to the island of Tierra del Fuego (the Bahía Azul crossing), the Center was established with three main objectives:
- to develop and carry out scientific research regarding migratory shorebirds, whales, ecological systems, and indigenous Selk’nam culture, among others;
- to implement activities involving education, public awareness, and capacity building at various levels; and
- to promote local tourism and economic development associated with the conservation of this globally important site.
For the island of Tierra del Fuego, the Center will serve as a new place of interest and learning for residents and tourists, providing them with ecological as well as tourist information about the area, a café and gift shop, and tours of the island.
The 150,000-acre (59,000-hectare) Bahía Lomas is the southernmost wetland in Chile, located at the eastern mouth of the Strait of Magellan. Declared a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention in 2004 and as a Site of Hemispheric Importance by WHSRN in 2009, the area is known worldwide for hosting tens of thousands of migratory shorebirds that use its habitats year after year. Some have migrated over 9,300 miles to get here! Bahía Lomas is the most important wintering site in South America for the rufa subspecies of Red Knot (Calidris canutus rufa), which breeds in the Arctic. Its population has suffered sharp declines.
Establishing such a Center is called for in the Bahía Lomas Management Plan, itself developed through a process of good governance without precedent in Chile. The project is being carried out through a strategic alliance among the Ministry of Environment, the National Petroleum Company (ENAP by its Spanish acronym), the Municipality of Primavera, University of Santo Tomás, Wildlife Conservation Society-Chile, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
© Gabriela González
The inaugural event will feature a variety of regional, national, and international authorities, and project partners. All will be celebrating this ambitious project as well as the partnerships that are supporting conservation and local development in the community of Primavera.
Congratulations to all of our partners for this important achievement—the dream of many years. Best wishes as well to the new Director of this most impressive Bahía Lomas Center, our colleague and friend, Ricardo Matus and monitors Gabriela González and Sergio Urrejola!
For more information, please contact Diego Luna Quevedo (email@example.com), Southern Cone Program Coordinator, Shorebird Recovery Project, Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences; Santiago, Chile.