Urban Natural Reserves, an opportunity to increase the conservation of the biodiversity efforts at local scale

Biodiversity conservation at the local scale through the active involvement of the community, a local contribution to a global problem.

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Eligibility Criteria

  • 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.

Initiative's representative name


Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • Argentina

Headquarters location: city

Rio Gallegos

Where are you making a difference?

PATAGONIA ARGENTINA. Provincias de Santa Cruz y Tierra del Fuego PATAGONIA CHILENA . Localidades de Curaco de Vélez, Maullín y Punta Arenas

Website or social media url(s)

https://www.ambientesur.org.ar/ ttps://www.facebook.com/pg/AmbienteSurPatagonia/about/?ref=page_internal https://www.instagram.com/asociacionambientesur/ https://twitter.com/ambiente_sur https://www.youtube.com/user/AmbienteSur/featured

Date Started


Project Stage

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €10k - €50k

Organization Type

  • Nonprofit/NGO

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.

We started to work 20 years ago when I moved definitively to Patagonia. In my first years I learned about the importance of the local ecosystem for the neighbors and the urgent need to rebuild an harmonious relationship between the people and nature. We saw an opportunity for this with the Urban Natural Reserves and we started working in Río Gallegos and creating the strategy. Then we made alliances with another NGO of the region through the Patagonia Urban Natural Reserves Network-RRNUP. Now, we are expanding our strategy to other places.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The rapid urbanization without a proper planning and its consequences impact on natural environments and on the quality of life of people in the Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. The impact on these ecologically sensitive places is a constant threat, which endangers the environmental services provided by these environments such as fishery resources, coastal protection, flood damping, recreational areas, ecotourism, biodiversity protection, etc.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our objective is to support the creation and management of protected areas at the local level (URBAN NATURAL RESERVES) through participatory processes, making alliances with NGOs and local governments. These actions are supported by innovative awareness strategies. We seek to actively involve citizens in the processes of conservation of local biodiversity. To achieve this, we develop strategic and sustained citizen training that contributes to significantly expanding the capacities for the promotion and monitoring of public policies, creating and consolidating alliances and collaboration processes. Our initiative seeks to involve citizens in the entire biodiversity conservation process at the local level: legal creation, implementation, management and evaluation. This is achieved by including formal spaces for citizen participation in the regulations. Our initiative works as a catalyst and articulator of the process.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

Innovation consists in the combination of strategies for environmental awareness, such as social marketing, with participatory processes of support for nature conservation at the local level. In this way, it seeks to enhance the value of Urban Nature Reserves as a “gateway” to the conservation of biodiversity, the promotion of citizen participation in the management of the territory and the improvement of the quality of life of communities urban generating, in addition, an increase of the citizen perspective transcending and enriching the local projecting globally and for the next generations.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

Collaborative work is a key aspect of the initiative. In each of the locations where the initiative is implemented, we seek to involve NGOs, diverse local groups, scientific community, companies and governments in the process of creating and managing reserves. In this way, we seek broad and sustainable support for conservation at the local level.

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 project has made an important difference since its founding stage between 2004 and 2011 in Río Gallegos, where the actions were implemented, lessons were learned and strategies were defined that would then slowly start to scale up to other places in Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. . Achieve the creation in many cases and the consolidation in others of Urban Natural Reserves-UNR to mobilize communities for the conservation of local biodiversity. Some numbers that summarize the impact: GEOGRAPHICAL SCOPE: *2 COUNTRIES, ARGENTINA AND CHILE CITIES INVOLVED: 11 PEOPLE REACHED (LAST 8 YEARS): 107,613 UNR SYSTEMS CREATED: 4 UNR REACHED: 24 2 GLOBAL CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES (MACA TOBIANO & HUEMUL), 5 THREATENED SPECIES OF BIRDS AT NATIONAL LEVEL , 7 IBA´s SITES & 4 WHRSN SITES REACHED. We currently measure project progress qualitatively (for example: formal participatory processes sustained over time) and quantitatively (for example, number of reserves created / managed

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

The main strategies to increase the impact of the project are: -Expand the geographical distribution in the Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. -Replicate nationally in Argentina and Chile. -Identify and strengthen local organizations that can lead the process in each locality -Increase the capacities of each site for the maintenance of local biodiversity conservation actions -Influence public policies that allow recognition of the importance of Urban Natural Reserves at the local level -Create a tool for sustainable project financing

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

The project creates its value for society from the recognition of the importance of the benefits that these local ecosystems provide to the communities that own them. The conservation of these environments helps to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants of each locality. It also provides a local contribution to the global problem of biodiversity loss

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?

We are working to design and implement an a Sustainable Financial Strategy for our project. The idea is the creation of the first Conservation Fund for the Patagonia.

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?

We have a Board of Directors (13 people) and an Executive Staff (9 people) composed by a Director and specific Departments( Conservation, Education and Administration) . 3 people are full time an 6 people part time. 7 are profesional from different careers (Environmental and Natural Resources Management, Education, Communication and Tourism) and 2 are students. His skills and qualifications will be use when project grows and we will work nearly with local leaders of the different comunities.

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact

12. Connection to Biodiversity: How does your project directly contributes to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity? Please share data to support your answer.

The project contributes directly to the conservation of the biodiversity of plants, animals, landscapes and cultural resources; these reserves are mainly relevant for the conservation of birds. 7 of them are IBA sites that include threatened species in both Chile and Argentina, such as the Cauquén Colorado (Chloephaga rubidiceps), Chorlito Ceniciento (Pluvianellus socialis), Condor Andino (Vultur gryphus), Pato de los Torrentes (Merganetta armata) and Flamenco Austral (Phoenicopterus chilensis). 4 of them are WHRSN sites where long-distance resident and migratory shorebird species are conserved with declining populations such as the Playero Rojizo (Calidris canutus rufa) and Becasa de Mar (Limosa haemastica) An emblematic bird that is conserved in 2 of these reserves is the Macá Tobiano (Podiceps gallardoi), a critically endangered species that is a successful example of how our work contributes to the conservation of biodiversity since it has managed to stabilize its population

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples that show how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

An example that we can mention is the intervention carried out in 1 urban natural reserve of Río Gallegos (Laguna Ortiz). Led by Ambiente Sur in 2016, an alliance was achieved between different local NGOs, local companies, the Municipal Government, neighbors and schools. This articulated work achieved: * Installation of basic infrastructure for the reserve (fences, viewpoints and interpretive signs) * Removal of 10 containers with large-volume trash and 320 bags of light waste through participatory cleaning that called for 160 people 3 years later we are monitoring the results and a priori we can highlight the recovery of the biodiversity of the area with the presence of pre-registered unregistered bird species and with declining populations such as the Cauquén Colorado (Chloephaga rubidiceps) and the Becasa de Mar (Limosa haemastica). Likewise, from the installed infrastructure and the awareness campaigns implemented, more people are using the area as a recreational space.

14. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

The problem is not currently being addressed in the way that this initiative addresses it. There are conservation strategies at the National and Provincial level, but there is no assessment of the contribution that the actions can make at the local level. Likewise, we are aware of conservation actions where citizen participation is encouraged, but there were no legally established participatory spaces in support of the management of these reserves. Finally, we add to the innovation of our initiative, the implementation of social marketing strategies that sensitize the community and motivate support for the conservation of biodiversity at the local level.

15. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

The project has the formal recognition by law at local scale in Río Gallegos and in the Santa Cruz Province . In recognition of our experience we´ve signed agreements with different local governments to work together in the urban natural reserves. We sustain the work in the region for more than 15 year thanks to different donors (International NGOs, governments, enterprises and individuals) , they trusted in us and finance our work .

16. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

Taking this and last year into account, our financing for the strategy is made up as follows: foundation or NGO grants 36,94 % grants or contracts 26,79% earned income (product or services sales, licensing, franchising, consulting, financing, etc.) 36,27 %

17. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge? How would you invest the prize money to leverage your work?

Undoubtedly, being the winner of the challenge will allow us to substantially increase the visibility of the initiative, being able on the one hand to achieve a greater impact at the regional level (South America) through the incidence in public policies that allow achieving greater recognition of these conservation areas at the local level as well as inspire other leaders to replicate the proposal in other regions The money would be invested in increasing the team's capabilities through various trainings (finances and language, for example) as well as to advance the financial sustainability strategy (legal issues, fundraising trip, etc.)


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