News Highlights →
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
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 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.
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
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
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