After almost 15 years of researching, teaching, and conserving in the Cape Horn region, the Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program's director, Dr. Ricardo Rozzi, says it has finally achieved a huge milestone. This is a first step in seeing the reality of the "Cape Horn Sub-Antarctic Center" since it now has solid funding. This initiative has been coordinated by the University of Magallanes (UMAG) and the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity (IEB) in Chile, and the Sub-Antarctic of Biocultural Conservation Program (SBCP) at the University of North Texas (UNT) in the United States.
During the meeting of the Magallanes Regional Council last Monday, May 2nd, the financing of this project was approved for the design stage, earmarked with a funding total of $500,000. Dr. Rozzi explains that this building will be an international center dedicated to the training of specialized human resources and sustainable ecological practices, as well as to develop scientific tourism, receiving visitors, and the local community in the southernmost biosphere reserve in the world. This will position the leadership of the Sub-Antarctic research as global excellence. According to him, this will also "consolidate the UMAG campus in Puerto Williams in the Antarctic province offering technical training and special interest programs."
Rozzi indicates there are 3 major factors at play. The first component of having the Cape Horn Center, which is already the southernmost campus on the planet run by UMAG, will capitalize on science, tourism, and education due to their location and their approach on biocutural conservation. The second is that the Cape Horn ecoregion is a gateway to Antarctica and has no counterpart on the planet. Finally, the third important component is that Chile will have the second formal natural observatory after the world's largest astronomy observatories located in the Atacama Desert.
The Regional Governor, M.D., Jorge Flies emphasized the importance of this project as a scientific endeavor and as a global model: "It will be a huge landmark of public space, truly an architectural landmark in Puerto Williams and this aligns fully with our Development Plan for Extreme Areas. Having a Sub-Antarctic Center means having a place on the scientific map in our world's southernmost city."
Nicolas Galvez, president of the Commission of Science, Energy and New Technologies of the Magallanes Regional Council, stressed that they were very satisfied after the approval of this long-awaited project that has been in the works for some time. Additionally, he said "We made the observation to the people who will implement the project of the importance of its relationship with the community, so that this great infrastructure will have a large impact on those living nearby. Thus, we expect this to be considered when making the design so that the Sub-Antarctic Center will have a great impact on the locals," said Galvez.
Galvez mentioned that when we asked about the links to the community, for instance, the materials used by local schools should be included as the results of the research generated here, especially for students of early age who live in the community. Hopefully, we can have books that tell stories of science and culture of the local region. If the students develop a better knowledge of the Beagle Channel and its surroundings, they will be more inclined and appreciative of the place where they live and more likely to contribute to the region and increase their interest in studying the environment they live in."