September 16, 2015

Bita River Report Card Workshop – The Orinoco River Basin, Colombia

This blog is part of the Basin Report Card Initiative: a partnership between the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES)

On August 9th, 2015, Simon Costanzo and I traveled from Bogota, Colombia to Puerto Carreño, Vichada, Colombia for the Bita River Report Card Workshop. This was the second of three workshops that will occur in Colombia, to develop report cards for three tributaries of the Orinoco River. Along with Simon, Sarah Freeman from the WWF office in Washington DC, also traveled to and attended the meeting. The first afternoon of meetings, we had a press conference, introductory talks, and a hike to view the rivers we’re working on.

Three rivers meet in Puerto Carreño, from left to right, the Meta, Orinoco, and Bita Rivers.

Three rivers meet in Puerto Carreño, from left to right, the Meta, Orinoco, and Bita Rivers.

The press conference to explain the purpose of the report cards for tributaries to the Orinoco River.

The press conference to explain the purpose of the report cards for tributaries to the Orinoco River.

The workshop itself was held in a military complex for the Armada Nacional (Navy). There were 17 organizations in attendance with over 40 participants, all helping to identify the environmental, social, and economic indicators that make up the Bita River Report Card.

Simon giving an introductory talk with the help of his translator, Alejandro.

Simon giving an introductory talk with the help of his translator, Alejandro.

Participants filling out what they think are the most important values of and threats to the Bita River.

Participants filling out what they think are the most important values of and threats to the Bita River.

Carmen facilitated the workshop, here helping organize the threats to the Bita River.

Carmen facilitated the workshop, here helping organize the threats to the Bita River.

The entire group of participants at the Bita workshop.

The entire group of participants at the Bita workshop.

What participants hope to see in the Bita River in 2025.

What participants hope to see in the Bita River in 2025.

The last night of the workshop, Simon, Luis Herman from WWF Colombia, and Clarita Bustamante from Humboldt Institute all received medals from the Navy for their work on this project.

Receiving the medals.

Receiving the medals.

The next morning, after the workshop, twelve members of the team from UMCES, WWF, WWF Colombia, and Omacha Foundation all went out on a boat ride to see dolphins on the Orinoco River. A few people even went swimming with the dolphins.

On the Orinoco River.

On the Orinoco River.

The river dolphins.

The river dolphins.

 Taking a celebratory swim.

Taking a celebratory swim.

Later that day after returning to Bogota, we went to do a radio interview before flying back to the United States.

 Simon, Sarah, and Saulo Usma (from WWF Colombia office) giving an interview at the Caracol radio station in Bogota.

Simon, Sarah, and Saulo Usma (from WWF Colombia office) giving an interview at the Caracol radio station in Bogota.

I’m looking forward to our third workshop later this month, which will be in San José del Guaviare for the Guaviare River Report Card!

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About the author
Alexandra Fries is a Science Communicator at the Integration and Application Network. Alex has a Master of Environmental Management from Duke University.
Website: http://ian.umces.edu/people/Alexandra_Fries/
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