Conectar Pilar - Promoting wetland biodiversity in the urban city of Pilar, Paraguay
Connecting people to wetland biodiversity through a nature trail, informative signs along river-side pathways, and wetland-themed murals.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
I am 18 years old or older.
Eco-club Voces de la Naturaleza installs a sign with information on the frogs and toads that can be found and heard along the nature trail. Sign donated by herpetologist Harry-Pym Davis.
Initiative's representative name
Initiative's representative date of birth
24 August 1980
Initiative's representative gender
Headquarters location: country
Headquarters location: city
Where are you making a difference?
Pilar, the major city in the department of Neembucu, Paraguay
Website or social media url(s)
Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working toward the next level of expansion)
Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?
1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.
Neembucu is home to the second largest wetland complex in South America, with a mosaic habitat of rivers, streams, and flooded grasslands, bursting with biodiversity. Pilar is an urban island in the midst of this rich wetland habitat and there is a notable lack of knowledge about, and appreciation for, the surrounding nature. Working towards the conservation of the wetlands over the last three years we have collected astonishing data, found species never before registered in Paraguay and some new to science. There is an immense need to communicate how valuable and unique the biodiversity of this area truly is. We aim to repair that disconnect and create opportunities for the entire community to learn about and appreciate the wetlands.
2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Pilar is in a period of accelerated development, which comes with benefits of economic growth, but also negative impacts on the ecosystem. The wetlands are suffering high levels of habitat destruction and pollution. City residents no longer appreciate the biodiversity around them, and it's being lost forever. We need to reconnect youth who have the opportunity to drive change and the elderly who remember what the wetlands used to look like to rekindle hope for the species that live there.
3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Para La Tierra's solution is to: 1. Enhance an interpretive nature trail at the local military base (an island of natural habitat in the city of Pilar) making nature accessible. 1.A. Create and install additional signs about the ecosystem, flora, and fauna of the area along the trail. 1.B. Maintain the trail and install confidence markers, concentrating the human traffic in the area will better protect the wetland ecosystem. 1.C. Provide guided walks for schools, groups, and tourists. 2. Create and install informative signs along river-side trails with information on native flora and fauna. 2.A. Improve local knowledge of wetland species, instill pride in the area and promote its preservation. 3. Paint wetland themed murals throughout the city of Pilar. 3.A. Engage local community members, artists, shop owners, and other organizations in this project that can be enjoyed by the whole city. 3.B. Inform urban residents about the local biodiversity. 3.C. Build an identity for Pilar that is connected to nature.
4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?
This project reflects innovation using multiple tactics to better connect people with nature. Para La Tierra (PLT) has collected data on the biodiversity near the nature trail for three years and this project makes those scientific findings available to the public. The signs in popular outdoor public spaces bring information about nature closer to the urban area, reaching individuals that would not normally venture into nature. And mural-based community projects provide a creative and active experience focused on an environmentally relevant theme which will help cultivate an identity and instill a sense of pride.
5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?
The nature trail was constructed and is maintained with the cooperation of the military base, Regimiento de Caballeria N°2 and local youth group Pilar Sustentable. The Government of Neembucu and the Municipality of Pilar have both supported the nature trail and professors from the National University of Pilar have brought their classes to the trail. Signs along the river are being designed by local artists using information and images collected by PLT’s scientific team and will be installed with the support of the Municipality. The 40 wetland themed murals have been endorsed by the Municipality, partially funded by the Government of Neembucu and the Rotary Club. Homeowners, two schools, and the university have offered their walls to paint, and local stores have donated supplies. This project provides benefits for the entire community and does more than connect people to nature, it brings together schools, organizations, artists, governmental entities, and businesses.
6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?
The inauguration of the trail attracted more than 50 community members and representatives from the Government of Neembucu, the Municipality of Pilar, the university, the Rotary Club, Pilar Sustentable, and the military base. Dozens of community members and tourists have visited the trail for exercise, bird watching and a recent bicycle event utilized a portion of the trail for educational purposes. Six murals have been painted, three are currently in process, and there is a significant increase in inquiries from businesses, schools, and residents wanting to become involved in the project. Progress will be measured by an escalation of involvement by stakeholders, more people visiting the trails and appreciating nature, increased tourism to Pilar, healthier wetland ecosystems, and cleaner public green spaces.
7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?
1. Train local volunteers to guide tourists at the nature trail with binoculars and field guides
2. Construct bridges, benches, and a lookout for the nature trail
3. Expand the signage to other popular public areas of Pilar
4. Offer walking tours of the city murals with information about the nature depicted
5. Advertise the project on social media, popular news articles, and the radio
6. Engage local stakeholders in a city-wide development project
7. Increase environmentally focused tourism opportunities to the area bringing long-term economic and environmental benefits to the community
8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?
Economic and social value will both be stimulated through this project by:
1. Cultivating pride and an identity for Pilar as a city that cares for the environment
2. Improved community cohesion through collaboration of local community members, artists, shop owners, and other organizations in working towards a common goal
3. Development of Pilar as a unique and attractive tourist destination and home to a community that feels connected to the art, information, and surrounding nature
4. Increased tourism will provide economic benefits to individuals and businesses
9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?
PLT has successfully sought funding from Lush cosmetics, the Gobernacion of Neembucu, and the Rotary Club to run the pilot stages of the project. Pilar Sustentable and PLT have held fundraisers that allowed for the purchase of the nature trail signs. PLT will ask for financial support from the Municipality and seek additional grants. Donors, local individuals, and businesses can also sponsor signs or murals, allowing for the purchase of materials and labor in exchange for display of their logos and support. The trail maintenance is done by volunteers and personnel from the military base which will lend to the long-term sustainability of the project and as community involvement increases we believe community support will follow suit.
10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?
Our current team has between two and eight volunteers and interns and two volunteer coordinators that help move the project forward by contributing to murals, trail maintenance, and signage installation and design. Our scientific team of three manages the research of local biodiversity, providing the information for signs. Our education coordinator works to involve two local Eco-clubs and 14 schools with the project and a leadership team of two manage the administration of the project.
11. How did you hear about this challenge?