UNT Research, Volume 18, 2009 Page: 31
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Yahgan people," Rozzi says. "Yahgan knowledge of the local envi-
ronment is being lost as their language and ecological practices are
replaced by global culture."
Recently, the Omora Foundation received $500,000 from
the Chilean Office for Development to develop in partnership with
UNT and UMAG the concept of "Tourism With a Hand-Lens."
The innovative research project, involving several UNT philoso-
phy, science and art faculty and students, will result in a series of
Last year, researchers with the UNT-Chile program reported
in Frontiers in Ecology, the leading ecological journal, that the Cape
Horn region represents less than 0.01 percent of the Earth's
land surface but is home to more than 5 percent of the world's
bryophytes, or nonvascular plants like mosses. In the project's
"Miniature Forests of Cape Horn," citizens and tourists are learn-
ing to appreciate the beauty and ecological value of the mosses,
lichens and liverworts through guided tours.
Rozzi says the project, which is being used as a model for
other research, includes not only scientific research and education
of the public through guided ecological activities, but also conser-
vation on site, such as in the building of a miniature forests garden
for the tours.
"This project brings research and conservation together with
biodiversity, transferring it into ecotourism activities and educa-
tion; it's not abstract," Rozzi says.
As tourism is the fastest-growing industry in Chile, he says
the advantage of developing specific ecotourism experiences is
economic as well as ecological.
"Tourists spend money at hotels, and the guided tours help
them understand this sub-Antarctic research and appreciate a flo-
ristic diversity that was previously overlooked, while keeping their
footprints limited to smaller, concentrated areas," he says.
UNT Chilean doctoral student Tamara Contador, who
earned her bachelor's degree in biology from UNT in 2006, is
studying the fauna of these miniature forests, focusing on the ecol-
ogy of freshwater insects in the Robalo River watershed, which
provides drinking water for Puerto Williams. Working with James
Kennedy, a regular instructor of the "Tracing Darwin's Path"
courses, Contador will move to the field station for a year. Her
dissertation is part of a larger plan to disclose the richness of sub-
Antarctic freshwater insects and translate scientific findings into
ecotourism and conservation activities.
For Alexandria Poole, a philosophy and environmental science
graduate student, the field station is a practicum for theoretical and
applied research projects. She is studying international biocultural
conservation efforts and ecological education through ecotourism,
educational programs and policy in Chile.
"I hope to help society re-engage the natural world in a way
that will fortify our communities and culture, but also lessen the
damage we are doing to the environment," Poole says.
As an interdisciplinary, international initiative, UNT's Chile
Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program will continue to
build opportunities with UMAG - the southernmost university
in the world - through the inauguration of a joint office for the
program at the central campus in Punta Arenas, Chile. In collabo-
ration with the Center for Environmental Philosophy, professors
are producing bilingual editions of journals and books with plans
for a future UNT-UMAG dual degree program including online
courses, video conferencing and semester-long exchanges.
"Global issues don't stop at boundaries of a country," says
Kennedy, professor of biological sciences and director of the Elm
Fork Education Center and Natural Heritage Museum. "Besides
the neat science we're doing, it's about the collaborations we're
creating and the international experiences our students and the
Chilean students are getting."
The UNT-Chile Field Station is making investments for the
future, not only for researchers, local citizens and the environment,
but for the students.
"Through UNT's innovations in field environmental science
and philosophy, I expect our students to become leaders of the
biocultural events around the world," Rozzi says. "My hope is
that we not just integrate philosophy, art and biology, but we also
contribute to conservation in high-latitude habitats threatened by
"By 'changing the lenses' through which we view not only the
problems but also the beauty of the landscapes, our future leaders
- together with the local people, the government, the little
plants - can make a difference." I
Through the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve's "miniature for-
ests," citizens and tourists learn the ecological and aesthetic
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