John Delaney – 718-220-3275jdelaney@wcs.org

WCS Chile’s Education Program For Conservation Among the             Best Environmental Projects in Latin America

Education initiative focusing on balancing conservation and development in Karukinka shortlisted for prestigious Latinoamérica Verde Awards.


New York (July 27, 2016) – The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is pleased to announce that the WCS Chile program has been nominated for the 2016 Latinoamérica Verde Awards, an event that recognizes work to address the most critical environmental issues of the region since 2013.

The initiative “Karukinka, conservation classroom at the end of the world” was voted eighth overall and in the top three in the “Human Development, Social Inclusion & Reducing Inequality” category. The award will be presented in Guayaquil, Ecuador on August 25, 2016.

The Latinoamérica Verde Award is a ranking of the top 500 social and environmental initiatives in the region. In its third year, more than 1,400 projects from 25 countries enrolled. The Ecuadorian company Sambito hosts the event with the support of the United Nations Development Programme.Karukinka is a vast haven for biodiversity, including iconic species such as the guanaco and Andean condor, with verdant cathedral forests, lush wetlands, and snow-capped mountains.

Since its establishment, the WCS Chile Karukinka Park has served as a model for conservation action and education throughout the region. The park is the country's largest "natural classroom" for conservation. Through its inspirational education program and experiential learning efforts, more than 800 students lived the conservation experience in the park, and approximately 8,000 people, especially in the Región de Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena, have been influenced through wide-reaching outreach efforts.

The WCS Chile Education Program has been active in the region for nearly a decade. The program’s goal is to promote the conservation, care, and preservation of biodiversity and terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The program has already been recognized for its ground breaking work by the Ministry of Environment with the Forjadores Ambientales (Environmental Blacksmiths) prize; Ciencia Joven Foundation; Hernando de Magallanes School, to promote science and conservation among students of Porvenir; and Latinoamérica Verde awards in 2015.

Belén Guarda, WCS Chile Education Program Coordinator said: “WCS is honored by this recognition and very proud to continue inspiring people by revealing the wonder of our natural heritage. We are fortunate to have such unique biodiversity, we understand the importance of preserving it, learning about it, and loving it, all with the aim to ensure this special place thrives forever.”

“WCS work has demonstrated commitment and capacity to the sustainable development of the Magallanes Region, while preserving the area and contributing to building a brighter future for Chile,” adds Daniela Droguett, Coordinator of WCS Chile.

WCS Chile Education Program: a Model of Innovation

The WCS Chile Education Program aims to help establish and visualize the connection between the country’s natural heritage, economic activity, social welfare, and sustainability. The economy of the southernmost region of Chile is based on the use of natural resources such as fisheries, livestock and tourism. This can be challenging as activities both occur in unique, wild places and are the lifeline of the local people whose livelihoods depend on them. WCS is working to ensure the sustainable management of projects near Karukinka in a way that is mutually beneficially, providing value to local economies, people, and natural capital for decades to come. 

The program strives to positively impact the country's development through the design and dissemination of models of sustainable use of natural resources. We have already seen great success guiding and promoting the work of fishermen to achieve sustainable fisheries and mitigate the effects of over-exploitation.

WCS is supporting sustainable practices for two of the most profitable activities in the region – tourism and livestock management. Through the promotion of good practice in tourism and environmental education, WCS is enabling the development of the tourism industry on a sustainable basis. WCS is also collaborating with the livestock sector in an effort to improve productivity and reduce competition between livestock and native wildlife, mitigate the effects of overexploitation, and enhance the adaptive and sustainable management of grasslands and forests through innovative research and environmental education. The education program also promotes teacher training, through the delivery of content and methodologies of environmental education, scientific inquiry, sustainability and biodiversity conservation.