Montserrat Lara Sutulov

GESA 2018 participant

About

Region of Specialisations Chile

Biography

I am an environmental biologist with a Masters of Environment degree from University of Melbourne Australia. My ten years of professional experience include research, working for NGOs and civil society projects, and most recently the government sector in varied cultural contexts (Chile, Peru, Uganda, Australia). My main interests are the social and human dimensions of conservation and environmental management. My academic background is in conservation planning and tools for environmental decisions which I developed at the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions Australia. I have applied these tools quite broadly ranging from environmental modelling to environmental sociology.

During the past four years I have become highly interested in wetland conservation and management. Wetlands provide a large array of ecosystem services to cities and rural areas in southern Chile where I live but unfortunately they are increasingly threatened. There is no specific legal framework for the protection of wetlands in Chile and public authorities have been very shy in protecting these ecosystems. Therefore NGOs and citizen activist groups have taken the lead role in protecting and defending wetlands against multiple threats, such as urbanization, mining and pollution caused mainly by the private sector. I am one of the leaders of the local emerging Citizen Network for Wetlands in Valdivia (Red Ciudadana por los Humedales-Valdivia) and we have recently formed the Wetland’s National Network that brings together wetland protection organisations from all over Chile.

Through GESA, I would like to deepen my environmental leadership role in wetland protection and sustainable management at a local and national level, building on my professional experience that includes research, consultancy work and activism. It will help our organisation in designing new strategies to engage diverse stakeholders (especially from the private sector) to halt wetland destruction and transform these ecosystems into an asset to cities and rural landscapes. I dream we can move from stopping bulldozers destroying wetlands to managing wetlands as urban public spaces that provide multiple ecosystem services to all human and non-human city dwellers.

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