October 15, 2015

Guaviare River Report Card Workshop

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 September 21st, 2015, Simon Costanzo and I traveled to San Jose de Guaviare, Colombia for the Guaviare River Report Card Workshop. This was the third workshop in Colombia to develop report cards for three tributaries of the Orinoco River. Along with Simon, Sarah Freeman, Catherine Blancard, and Michele Thieme from the WWF office in Washington DC, also participated in the meeting. The first afternoon of meetings we went over background information and had introductory presentations by stakeholders working in the region.

Many participants joined us for the workshop from a range of areas throughout the Guaviare River Basin.

Many participants joined us for the workshop from a range of areas throughout the Guaviare River Basin.

Mary Lou Higgins, the director of the WWF Colombia office, spoke about the project at the beginning of the workshop.

Mary Lou Higgins, the director of the WWF Colombia office, spoke about the project at the beginning of the workshop.

The Sinchi Institute was one of the new partners who joined us due to their extensive work in the Guaviare region.

The Sinchi Institute was one of the new partners who joined us due to their extensive work in the Guaviare region.

The first evening, we also did several activities where the participants spoke about important resources in the region. These included the flower of Guaviare, Moriche (palm), jaguar, and fish.

The flower of Guaviare diagram.

The flower of Guaviare diagram.

Explaining benefits and the importance of the Moriche (palm).

Explaining benefits and the importance of the Moriche (palm).

Simon Costanzo, Alejandro Siblesz, and Catherine Blancard watching the presentations.

Simon Costanzo, Alejandro Siblesz, and Catherine Blancard watching the presentations.

The second day of the workshop began with a presentation by Simon discussing the report card process and methodology. Afterwards, the entire group brainstormed the values and threats to the Guaviare River Basin. After all the possible values and threats were determined, the group voted on the most important ones to focus on for the Guaviare River.

Simon Costanzo describing the report card process using the new Chesapeake Bay Report Card as an example.

Simon Costanzo describing the report card process using the new Chesapeake Bay Report Card as an example.

Carmen facilitated the workshop for a third time, here working with participants to determine values and threats to the Guaviare.

Carmen facilitated the workshop for a third time, here working with participants to determine values and threats to the Guaviare.

The first day ended with discussion of the indicators to use in the Guaviare River Report Card. The participants broke up into groups to brainstorm indicators based on specific values and threats of the basin.

The next morning, we woke up early (4am!) to go on a field visit before the last day of the workshop. The area we visited was called Ciudad de Piedra (City of Rocks). These rock formations are symmetrical rectangles that form what seem to be city walls, with streets in between.

We came to a site of interesting rock formations, 45 minutes outside San Jose de Guaviare.

We came to a site of interesting rock formations, 45 minutes outside San Jose de Guaviare.

The morichales (palm communities) in person!

The morichales (palm communities) in person!

The flower of Guaviare.

The flower of Guaviare.

Walking in the “streets” between the rock formations.

Walking in the “streets” between the rock formations.

After our field trip we wrapped up the workshop with picking the final indicators, discussing who had the data, and who would be part of the smaller working groups to establish the indicator thresholds and scoring. We also went over the communications plan, the draft report card, and the draft newsletter from the workshop.

The group who participated in the Guaviare Report Card Workshop.

The group who participated in the Guaviare Report Card Workshop.

Most unusually for this workshop, we ended before seeing the Guaviare River! After finishing the workshop, we drove downtown and watched the sunset over the river.

The Guaviare River, looking east.

The Guaviare River, looking east.

Sunset over the Guaviare River, looking west.

Sunset over the Guaviare River, looking west.

 

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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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