WCS’s Bolivia Program and the Institute of Ecology have won an Urban Intervention Program Award, a prestigious honor with national recognition for their online efforts to connect the country’s urban population with nature, specifically by enlisting residents of La Paz in research and conservation actions important for urban wildlife habitats and diversity.

WCS and the Institute received second place in the social network popularity contest in a national competition organized by the Urban Interventions Program of the Ministry of Development Planning to reward citizen participation in environmental issues. The amount of the prize, $5,789, will complement other WCS funds to support the participation of La Paz in next year’s City Nature Challenge, an ongoing worldwide contest that enlists citizen scientists in the identification of as many urban animal and plant species as possible. Part of the award money will go towards developing digital tools for users (species identification guides, trail and route guides through the green areas of La Paz, etc.).

The central theme of the WCS-led effort in La Paz, Bolivia was focused on the city’s natural and cultural diversity, and the challenges the city faces in reconciling its development with the conservation of biodiversity.  The project also helps to keep cultural traditions alive through citizen science initiatives that mobilize the inhabitants of the city in a collective effort to document urban biodiversity.

“The objective is to involve a greater number of people in the photographic documentation of biodiversity in the metropolitan urban and surrounding regions of La Paz,” said Lilian Painter, Country Director for WCS’s Bolivia Program.  “We are working on more effective dissemination strategies such as the development of a citizen science website and additional partnerships with media organizations and other environmental groups.”