|Participation, development and cultural heritage Impact in the community|
Communication, participation and collaboration are key to the creation of shared value
The Valdivian Coastal Reserve is a conservation area integrated into the neighboring communities, according to The Nature Conservancy's vision of a non-confrontational, collaborative approach and staying true to its five, unique core values: Integrity beyond reproach, Respect for people, communities and cultures, Commitment to diversity, One Conservancy (organization) and Tangible, lasting results.
Thus, the Reserve promotes not only the protection of the land and sea to conserve a globally important biodiversity, but also contributes actively to local development, through the establishment of alliances with the neighboring communities to create mutually beneficial win-win relationships.
We promote channels of participation and integration of the surrounding communities by creating opportunities for the development of specific local economical activities that are compatible with the conservation of natural resources. These activities include, for example, sustainable tourism, farming of non-wood forestry products and the sustainable exploitation of marine resources.
The strategies we employ are ensuring channels for fluid communication and conflict management, together with environmental education to promote the commitment and collaboration of the neighboring communities to achieve the Reserve’s goals.
In addition, we contribute to the community with leadership training and empowerment of local organizations. This allows us to collaborate with the community with a complete program that supports a wide array of local initiatives.
© Ian Shive for The Nature Conservancy
Social participation, local community development and preservation of cultural heritage
The Valdivian Coastal Reserve is envisioned as a protected area integrated into the local community.
Therefore, its objectives are to promote a protected land and marine landscape that contributes to the conservation of a globally-important bio-diversity, while, at the same time, contributing to local development by involving the surrounding communities as partners in a mutually beneficial process.
The Valdivian Coastal Reserve’s proposition is to promote participation- and integration processes with the neighboring communities. It thus creates opportunities for the development of economic activities compatible with the conservation of natural resources, such as tourism and the sustainable harvesting of both non-wood forest products and sea produce.
The opportunities and benefits created by the Valdivian Coastal Reserve –in coordination with local governments and public services– are perceived as a way to promote the zone as a destination for eco-tourism and as a clean production area for certified products with a denomination of origin and elevated added value.
Good communication mechanisms and conflict management, together with environmental education and communication are proposed as strategies aimed at involving local communities in the achievement of conservation objectives. Furthermore, the other important target of the program is to strengthen local organizations and train local leaders.
The Participation, Development and Cultural Heritage Program is divided into three subprograms:
1 - Social participation subprogram
The main objective of this subprogram is to involve the local community in the implementation of activities in the Valdivian Coastal Reserve and, when pertinent, in the decision-making process.
The subprogram aims to involve the community as an active player in the management of the protected area.
The guidelines that drive the Social Participation Program of the Valdivian Coastal Reserve are the recognition of the importance of social participation, the establishment of rules, rights and obligations that regulate participative activities, the compliance with agreements and commitments, the strengthening of local, community-based organizations, the use of methodologies adapted to local reality and the dissemination of the benefits derived from conservation for the development of local communities.
2 - Community Development subprogram
Community development is a program directed at improving the living conditions of the community as the result of collaborative action to achieve common goals. One of the Valdivian Coastal Reserve’s objectives, and the central objective of the Community Development subprogram, is to contribute to the sustainable development of local communities.
To achieve this objective, we are creating mechanisms which allow us to distribute the benefits derived from the presence of the Valdivian Coastal Reserve. These mechanisms are grouped along two central lines:
A - Allow the benefits created by the influx of visitors into the Valdivian Coastal Reserve and surrounding areas to be internalized by the local communities
Tourism is one of the principal mechanisms that allow protected areas to generate revenue. The Valdivian Coastal Reserve uses tourism and, in particular, community-based ecotourism, as a means of encouraging the development of local communities. Therefore, many of the benefits associated with tourism are transferred to the communy through concessions and subjecting the entry of tourists into the protected area to the procurement of the services of local guides, whom have received prior training and are offered technical assistance.
B - Create mechanisms and conditions that allow the local community to capitalize on the ecosystem services provided by the protected area
The Valdivian Coastal Reserve contains ecosystems that provide important services to the community. In this manner, it supports initiatives for the exploitation of resources within the Reserve and its buffer areas, to the extent that such use would not compromise the viability of the conservation targets (biological-, cultural-, and human welfare).
The mechanisms to support these initiatives include, but are not limited to, the transfer of water rights, concessions to establish support infrastructure for fishermen unions, support for community livestock management, support for the management of sustainable production, and so forth.
3 - Cultural Heritage Conservation subprogram
Activities related to the Valdivian Coastal Reserve’s Cultural Heritage conservation object are incorporated into this subprogram. Specifically, the program supports the development of baselines and records necessary for the conservation of the tangible cultural heritage component, as well as to coordinate and/or implement the monitoring procedures related to the cultural heritage.
Moreover, this subprogram coincides with the Environmental- and Patrimonial Education program for the development of those educational activities related to the Cultural Heritage of the Reserve.
© Ian Shive for The Nature Conservancy
Testimonials on our impact in the community
Juvenal Triviños, member of the Chaihuín fishermen’s syndicate
The Chaihuín fishermen’s syndicate was founded in 1986 and has currently 35 members.
Recently, the group signed an alliance with The Nature Conservancy for the maintenance and sustainable use of their operation areas, adjacent to the Chaihuín beach and the Colmillos de Chaihuín.
Syndicate member Juvenal Triviños highlights: “As the project has progressed, we have come to realize that we can generate alternative income through tourism.
We have taken people to the Los Colmillos sector and they were amazed by the beauty of the location. The project is a good idea and we are very pleased with this agreement.
We also love the sea and we know that it is necessary to look after it. Our relationship with the Nature Conservancy is good; it is a collaborative relationship in which they help us with projects and train us.
We feel we are being respected and that our opinion matters.”
Maritza Muñoz, co-owner of Restaurant “Pesca Sur”, Huape.
Maritza Muñoz is native of Huape, a community neighboring the Valdivian Coastal Reserve. She is one of the owners of the characteristically boat-shaped “Pesca Sur” Restaurant.
Before this initiative, Maritza worked as a seafood collector and had a small vegetable garden.
But the harsh weather conditions of this area, the strong winds, heavy rains and stormy seas made it difficult to depend on these activities for a stable living.
Therefore, with the help of state funding and technical support from The Nature Conservancy, she decided to build Pesca Sur, a venture that today employs 9 people - 5 women and 4 men.
Maritza Muñoz says: “They gave me an opportunity to develop myself as an independent worker. We serve the typical dishes of our area, using products from the sea and our vegetable patches.
Thanks to The Nature Conservancy we are here today; they gave us the push we needed.”
Ivan Railaf, Cooperativa Agrícola y Forestal Chaihuín Limitada (COAFOCH)
Part of The Nature Conservancy-led project is the implementation of a series of eucalyptus harvesting programs on the Valdivian Coastal Reserve, in collaboration with, among others, the Cooperativa Agrícola y Forestal Chaihuín Limitada (COAFOCH) agricultural cooperative and forestry company.
The organization is one of various that participate in this extractive activity, offering employment and sustenance to local community members.
Ivan Railaf points out: “I have personally benefited from this experience. We have always been fishermen and had never worked in forestry activities; at least not in a professional environment where you have to follow strict safety rules and use the appropriate equipment.
What I appreciate most about this initiative, is that we are self-employed and can help other people to work in the area to obtain an income for their families.
As a cooperative, we are, in fact, demonstrating the benefits of this initiative to our community.”
Alexandra Álvarez Triviños, student at the Chaihuín primary school
Alexandra is a fifth grader at the Chaihuín school and participates in the environmental education workshop led by experts of The Nature Conservancy. She considers this as an important opportunity, because she has learned many things that she didn't know about her territory.
She talks enthusiastically about the workshop, telling us: “I have learned a lot about the sea, the forest and the species that live there.
I didn't know that much and I am happy to have known the teachers from The Nature Conservancy, whom have always been very kind to us and taught us so many good things. What I most liked was to learn about the Colo Colo opossum (Dromiciops gliroides).
When I saw it in a photograph that teacher Danilo showed us, I fell in love with it and if you love something, then you must look after it. That is why I look after its house, the Reserve, and pick up the garbage that people leave when they visit us.
It is not only the opossum that lives here, I also live here, I share my house with all these animals and trees on the Reserve, I am also part of the Reserve.”
Juan Carreño, local tour guide from Chaihuín
The Nature Conservancy offers members of the neighboring communities the opportunity to work as a tour guide in the protected area, thus creating a new source of employment and sustenance for their families.
Juan lives in Chaihuín and joyfully tells us that the opportunity offered by The Nature Conservancy has helped him better value his environment and has given him a new job opportunity.
“I came to the Reserve out of curiosity, because of the work that was being done here; little by little I started participating. I got to know the team and the projects.
The Nature Conservancy has given us the chance to work in this area, they trained us and they keep doing so, in order for us to have better tools to work with the visitors.
I am glad to be a guide and assist the people who visit this area. I feel very pleased that I can show them the beauty of the Valdivian forests and, even more so, the thousand-year old Alerce trees on the Reserve.”