Research conducted by Omora Alliance scientists found that southern Chile hosts 5% of the world's non-vascular flora diversity, including mosses, liverworts and lichens. Since making the "discovery" of this biodiversity hotspot in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, our program has worked to integrate this knowledge into the consciousness and decision-making process of local citizens and authorities. During an education program in the local school in Puerto Williams, the metaphor "Miniature Forests" was coined to help the general public understand that these small plants are as important and have the same processes and the forests they see around them every day; they just require us to bend down with a hand lens to observe them.
Today, these activities are part of a major grant from the Chilean Ministry of Economy (approximately $700,000 USD) to implement scientific tourism in the subantarctic ecoregion. This information is being transferred to sustainable economic activities with the promotion of "Tourism with a Hand Lens," an innovative specialty tourism activity being implemented at the Omora Park that also has applications for Antarctica. Various students and faculty are currently working on the implementation of this concept, associated with a "Miniature Forest Garden" that will be designed in the Omora Park.
Principal Investigator: Francisca Massardo, University of Magallanes