I recently returned from Uruguay, South America—one of the smallest and least populated South American nations. Best known for its gauchos, pampas, cattle culture and the highest global per capita beef consumption, Uruguay is also one of the most prosperous and stable nations in Latin America. I traveled to Uruguay at the invitation of the United States Embassy, the US-Uruguay Cultural Center and several environmental groups to conduct a series of training and outreach activities on management of national parks and regarding the impact of climate change on parks and biodiversity. Uruguay has one of the smallest and least developed protected area systems in Latin America, and its environmental community wants to learn and adopt best practices to help the development of its park systems.
My action-packed week in Uruguay started with a rapid-fire visit of a number of Uruguay’s national parks and reserves to observe first hand their management and challenges. I was accompanied by two Uruguayan park rangers, including one, Hector Caymaris, who had spent last summer at CSU participating in our annual short course for Latin American parks professionals.
On my return to Montevideo, the nation’s capital, I served as instructor for a four-day workshop for over 80 representatives of national and local government agencies, environmental non-profits, academia, and the private sector on how to make parks more “user-friendly” through expanded interpretative programs and improved infrastructure such as trails, signage, visitor centers and guided interpretive programs. While in Uruguay, I also presented to over 170 high school students on the importance and history of Earth Day and what they can do to reduce their own environmental footprint. Finally, I presented in a business sustainability conference for government, military and business leaders on the impact of global climate change on biodiversity, protected areas and coastal zone management. These issues are of high importance in a country where most of the population lives at or near sea level and in close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and the Rio de la Plata delta.
Already our team at CSU is discussing other ways to support the efforts of our Uruguay colleagues to increase public appreciation of and support for their beautiful parks and to contribute to conserving the country’s natural heritage.
For more information on my work in South America, visit warnercnr.colostate.edu/cpamt-home