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Sierra Gorda: An example of an International working Network.


Iwith.org strongly collaborate with Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, where voluntaries from Catalonia have been planning projects, have been preparing the web for ecotourism, and have been working with materials transferred by UNESCO in Paris, to enlarge the “virtual development” school.

In these days Marina Rendón, one of the persons in charge of the project, is collaborating in the planning and is getting guidance at Iwith.org in Barcelona

First of all, this project began thanks to the Network and to all the efforts that have been done. Like in Frederick Forsyth’s book, we must explore New York, Paris, Geneva and Barcelona to find the links that lead to Iwith.org being identified as the technological partner of this project.

The Ecological Group Sierra Gorda started in 1987 as a response of a group of citizens facing the intensive deterioration of natural resources in Sierra Gorda, Mexico.

The recognition and prestige gained made possible to obtain an ambitious, full-scaled project called “Biodiversity Conservation of the Biosphere Reservation” in Sierra Gorda, which is provided with an initial fund of 6.7 million dollars, granted by the Global Environmental Foundation (GEF). Additionally, the Ecological Group Sierra Gorda is managing 25 million dollars in co-financing and financial affiliation with the cooperation of a range of actors.

Nowadays, Sierra Gorda’s Biosphere Reservation is an example of social management, being an innovative experience of co-administration for a Natural Protected Area. This program of environmental community education has performed great importance to obtain new habits and attitudes, in which have interfered about 20,000 citizens who take part through different civil networks.

The Biosphere Reservation of Sierra Gorda contains an extension of 383 567 hectares. The principal biological characteristic of Sierra Gorda is its own eco-diversity, so it’s uniquely for the amount of ecosystems that represents, for its geographical position in the confluence of different bioregions neo-artic and neo-tropical, due to its big physiographic complexity, and for its diverse altitudes that go from 300 msnm in the cannon of Santa Maria’s river, up to 3.100 msnm in The Pingüica’hill.

These factors plus heterogeneous rain precipitation, which changes from 350 mm3 to 2.000 mm3, proliferate numerous climatic changes.
This notable vegetation diversity corresponds equally notable fauna diversity. It is provided with a whole of 548 vertebrates between them; black bear, jaguar and puma.

If we think about the links that joins Iwith.org with Sierra Gorda we will see already in 2003 Iwith.org realized in “Jalpán de Serra” an e-learning project; " Share to educate " in the " Centre of excellence education for children in the Sierra " This project began thanks to the collaboration with the Swiss foundation Infantia, and it developed along with “Universitat Oberta de Catalunya”.

Later, when Oriol and Gemma approached Iwith.org looking for a project to contribute as volunteers with their experience in ecotourism, we contacted the International Social Entrepreneurs ' Association (ISEA), one of the benefit organizations of Iwith.org, so volunteers were for a long period in Sierra Gorda with “Sierra Gorda’s Ecological Group” which belongs to ISEA network.

After some time the collaboration became closer, and the web “Sierra Gorda Ecotours for Sustainable Forest AC” was developed to invite everybody to think about this privileged destination of ecotourism. The main characteristic of this web-project is the facility for different people to gain access in the administration to publish news in real-time.

Finally, with the Ecological Group Sierra Gorda, we are developing the On-Line formation school, whose first course will be qualified with materials from UNESCO and where more than 300 volunteers from the Reservation learn the skills for conservation and handling. The challenge of this project is not the installation of virtual campus, but the adaptation of materials and instructional design for voluntary students who have few skills in the use of computer hardware.

From this experience, the Earth Centre of Sierra Gorda is already planning to extend the formation on-line to other parks in the continent that have similar needs.

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