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Begun as a local effort at the Omora Ethnobotanical Park in 2000, the program today is an international and interdisciplinary venture, whose partner institutions in the United States and Chile work to integrate the ecological sciences and environmental ethics.
This long-term socio-ecological research, education and conservation program in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, the Omora Alliance is developing innovative ways to address intertwined environmental and social problems such as global ecological change, invasive exotic species, cultural homogenization and sustainable development. The term biocultural conservation attempts to express the intrinsic link between human cultures and the environment. It also is an effort to place emphasis on the fact that often cultural diversity is as endangered, or more so, than species diversity in many places.
In the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve (CHBR), researchers have placed special attention to this link, which requires a transdisciplinary approach to study, conserve and communicate these findings.
The work in the CHBR links diverse approaches including environmental ethics, Yaghan traditional ecological knowledge, ecology, art and policy making, among others.
This program is supported by a network of organizations from both hemispheres of the world. It is an international and interdisciplinary cooperative that hopes to approach conservation by coupling the social and biological dynamics within policy making.
The goals of the coursework are to provide students with an interdisciplinary research, conservation and education experience at one of the most pristine wilderness areas remaining in the world. The program will explore ways of defining, studying, communicating, and conserving biocultural diversity.
These goals will be achieved by exposing students to a first-hand experience in the Omora Ethnobotanical Park (OEP), a long-term ecological study site that serves to link society and development with biodiversity, history and ecosystems in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve (CHBR).