The solutions to everyday problems here, which are different from those that occur in the Western world, are so simple and logical – it’s this approach to problem-solving that really attracts me about taking on the project in Paraguay.
Karina Atkinson describes Paraguay’s Reserva Natural Laguna Blanca, an 804-hectare area at the confluence of three major ecoregions, as being “like paradise” with its diversity of plants and wildlife, including a number of rare, threatened
and endangered species.<br><br>Inspired to stay after completing her stint volunteering on a science programme, the Scotswoman co-founded Para La Tierra, the non-governmental organization that has come to the aid of the
reserve and impoverished local communities. Through a combination of research and community engagement, she and her colleagues have provided the scientific basis for the conservation of the reserve’s species and habitats. <br><br>Much
has already been achieved: local landowners have been persuaded to reduce the impact of their agricultural activities on the habitat; the local community is now more aware of the need to protect animal species; and ecotourism has gained
a footing, with hundreds of people visiting the reserve daily in high season.<br><br>Atkinson estimates hundreds of people have benefited from the work of Para La Tierra. Her team has established a strong foundation in
environmental stewardship among the youngest members of the community, forging local and international partnerships to improve livelihoods and help achieve conservation goals.<br><br>Unfortunately, the reserve is up for
sale and her work is under threat. She is seeking donor funds to buy it.