Ambiente Sur celebrates 11 years of work for the environment
11 years ago, on March 7, 2007, the Asociación Ambiente Sur was born as a result of the concern of citizens who decided to join to work for the conservation of local environments, with fundamental axes in education and citizen participation.
Since then, the Association has established itself as a non-governmental organization, influencing environmental protection policies, implementing awareness projects in the community, educating and raising awareness about the ecosystem in which we live and of which we are part of Río Gallegos and, in this stage, extending its arrival and assistance to the Patagonian and binational regional scope.
Through the implementation of projects, the associativity with other civil society organizations, the state and neighbors, the constant training and transparency in the development of their activities, Ambiente Sur has been a participant in these years of many achievements.
Important conservation objectives have been achieved, consolidating the protection of the city's urban natural reserves, increasing awareness among all sectors of the community, which have appropriated them and the biodiversity they protect, increasing their knowledge of them and actively participating in all the proposals launched from our NGO.
In the last year, the Association gave continuity to the Project "Conservation of Two Focal Species of Migratory Shorebirds in South Patagonia, Argentina: Connecting Communities through Urban Nature Reserves, Environmental Education and Citizen Participation", which has been developing since 2014 and which 2017 closed the first phase. Now it continues with the implementation of the second phase together with its partners from the Chilean NGO Conservación Marina. In this way, in Río Gallegos the awareness-raising actions that were already carried out and works in the reserves continued and, in Curaco de Vélez and in Maullín, Chile, campaigns were carried out to raise awareness about these ecosystems and the species they harbor, work which will continue to expand in 2018.
At the same time, awareness raising towards the community has been organized through the COM.UNI.D.A.D. (Understanding United to Environmental Dynamics in Diversity), which includes various subprograms centered around the System of Urban Natural Reserves of Río Gallegos (SRNU), the Macá Tobiano and its environment; the realization of Pride Festivals and work in the Network of Urban Natural Reserves of Patagonia (RRNUP). From each one of them, workshops have been developed in schools, guided visits to the Interpretation Center "Estuary of the River Gallegos" (CIERG); theoretical-practical training with field trips to reservations; participation in the Provincial Book Fair; premiere of a new environmental play for children and organization of two Pride Festivals, among its main actions. That is to say, a powerful work of sensitization of the community towards the local environment that achieved the participation of more than 9,000 people in Río Gallegos and that will continue this year, consolidating these strategies that have given visible results.
Ambiente Sur has also assisted similar initiatives carried out in other cities of Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, transmitting their experience and supporting with projects and technical assistance the creation and consolidation of urban natural reserves in them. In this framework, it has given a strong impulse to the formation of the Network of Urban Natural Reserves of Patagonia. Two meetings of the Network were held in 2017, the first in Río Gallegos, with Ambiente Sur as host, and the second in Punta Arenas. In both meetings, training sessions on conservation, planning and institutional strengthening were developed, and progress was made in formalizing the Network through the approval of the internal regulations. These instances of collaboration, assistance, training and exchanges between the Patagonian cities will have full continuity during this year.
Environmental Sustainability and Inclusion
In addition to these projects implemented for several years and still in force, the last year Ambiente Sur incorporated into its work the axis of inclusion and the full participation of people with disabilities in actions for the environment. The Sustainability and Inclusion Project covers the energy sustainability aspects of CIERG, linking it to work for inclusion. In the first case, the objective is to make improvements in the Center regarding waste management and water and energy management. Regarding the inclusive aspect, Ambiente Sur participates with the Foundation for the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities to Be Part and the Retoño Patagónico Group in the project "Transition to Adult Life" (TVA), with the aim of incorporating and training young people with disabilities so that they can become Environmental Promoters.
The objectives achieved and the synergy achieved with other governmental and non-governmental organizations do not make us lose sight of the fact that there are still important outstanding issues in matters of environmental conservation in our region. On the one hand, we will not stop expressing our concern for the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Santa Cruz River, which will affect the most important glacial river in Patagonia, threatening the Macá tobiano and may lead to extinction; at Río Gallegos we are also concerned about the delay in the completion of the work for an integral management of urban solid waste, which will allow the current municipal waste to be cleaned up, as it constitutes a threat to public health and to conservation.
Finally, we want to thank all the neighbors, institutions, NGOs and State departments that have trusted us and have accompanied us in the initiatives that we have proposed and that we will continue to undertake with conviction and enthusiasm. Thank you very much to everyone!