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From 8-13 June 2008, the new Chilean Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research Network, coordinated by the Instiute of Ecology and Biodiveristy was launched at the Omora Park. For more information, visit the IEB’s website: www.ieb-chile.cl
From 31 May to 13 June 2008, the third version of the Tracing Darwin’s Path Field Course was conducted in the Omora Park. For more information visit: www.chile.unt.edu and www.osara.org
Currently, the Omora Park is in a process of consolidating the consortium of organizations that coordinate activities in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, including the University of Magallanes, the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity, and the Omora Foundation in Chile and the University of North Texas, the Center for Environmental Philosophy and the Omora Sub-Antarctic Research Alliance in the US.
Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve declared by UNESCO!
The Omora Ethnobotanical Park
The Omora Ethnobotanical Park is a collaborative initiative between the Omora NGO and the Universidad de Magallanes and is a party to BGCI’s International Agenda for Botanical Gardens in Conservation.
The Park is located 3 km west of Puerto Williams on the north coast of Isla Navarino. Within the park interpretative trails explore most of the major habitat types of the region: coastal coigue forests, lenga parks, ñirre forests, Sphagnum bogs, beaver wetlands and alpine heath. In addition, the Robalo River runs through the park and provides potable water to the town of Puerto Williams.
The Omora Park aspires to be:
1) an outdoor classroom open to the students and teachers of schools and universities, as well as for visitors interested in nature, its landscapes and cultures.
2) a natural laboratory to study the ecology of the southernmost forests on the plant, including processes and effects of global climate change on the Cape Horn Region.
3) a public space to try forms of living together based on solidarity and respect between human beings and other biological species.
The Omora Park is also member of the Latin American Network of Ethnobotanical Sister Gardens (read the latest Network Newsletter). Ethnobotany is the study and practice of the relationship between humans, plants and the ecosystem inhabited by them. In the spirit of ethnobotany, Omora promotes conservation of the traditional ecological knowledge held by diverse ethnic groups, particularly the Yahgans.
As part of the park’s intercultural education program, the signs identifying the various plants and animals include the names in Yahgan, scientific Latin, English and Spanish for each species. For example, the bush upush, Ribes magellanicum or zarzaparrilla, possesses names which express diverse cultural points of view about this species. In Yahgan, Puerto Williams was called Upushwaia, because it was the bay (waia) where upush was abundant. For scientists it is a species of the genus Ribes (blackberries and currants), which is exclusive to the region of Magallanes, hence the Latin name: Ribes magellanicum. The Spanish conquistadors observed that this bush grew everywhere, much like a weed or zarza, and its leaves reminded them of the grapevine or parra; hence, zarza-parrilla.
The Omora Foundation
The Omora Foundation is a Chilean non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to biocultural conservation in the extreme southern tip of South America. The Foundation receives its name from the Yahgan word for “hummingbird.” However, in the Yahgan cosmology Omora was more than a bird; he was also a revered hero. In ancestral times, when humans and other animals lived in the same society, little Omora would arrive to settle ecological and personal disputes and in that way he maintained the harmony of society and nature. The holistic meaning of Omora bridges the divide between humans and other living beings, between society and the natural environment. The Omora Foundation attempts to embody this last, broader definition in its mission to “integrate biocultural conservation with social well being at the ends of the Earth.” For more information check out