Team ProNaturaleza – Katie McMahon, Adam Selvin, Priyal Sheth, and Michelle Verwest – are in Peru consulting for ProNaturaleza, one of the largest and most successful Latin American NGOs focused on environmental conservation. Our project is centered on the Interpretation Center (i.e., visitor/guest center) of the Paracas National Reserve, a natural protected area located on the southern Pacific coast of Peru, approximately 250 km south of Lima. The main purpose of the Paracas National Reserve is preservation of the marine ecosystem of over 1,500 species and historical cultural heritage of the area. In addition to a business plan, we will evaluate the economic viability of ProNaturaleza operating the Interpretation Center with the government and proposing a business model for replication to other national reserves in Peru. A long-term goal of our client is to generate a profitable revenue stream from the Interpretation Center operations to reduce dependence on private funding while promoting conservation in one of the world’s most important and beautiful marine ecosystems.
¡Buenos Tardes from Team ProNaturaleza! Lo hicimos, we made it to Paracas. After gathering the team in Lima, Peru and spending the day with our client (not to mention a welcoming two hour Peruvian lunch filled with traditional seafood, ceviche, and pisco sours), we were amazed to learn about all the ways in which they help maintain the fragile ecosystems of Peru.
The team of passionate experts stretches across the country, from the Amazon, across the Andes, to the Pacific. The day was inspiring and finished off in the office of the CEO of Inkaterra, a leading luxury hospitality service with 30 years of success in ecotourism as pioneers and promoters. He shared openly with us and left us all with lessons in conservation but a few life lessons, as well.
Before dawn today, we left the comforts of Lima, heading south on the Pan-American Highway. Our apprehension about the arid desert ecosystem we were approaching vanished as we stood in front of the facility that has been the center of our discussions for the last month. The Interpretation Center is the avenue by which the reserves’ 180,000 annual visitors are welcomed and introduced to the protected marine area and it will be the focus of our stay in Peru.
The bright, dry desert sun, mixed with the cool marine air, felt as soothing as the sight of a bus full of eager tourists enjoying the natural reserve’s Interpretation Center. We will spend the next four days touring the reserve and interviewing hotel managers and tourists with our trusted guide, Luis Rios, to pinpoint ways in which ProNaturaleza can achieve their long term goals of preserving this beautiful ecosystem!