Last October PhD student Katrina Davis travelled to Chile to start a project with the Facultad de Ciencias Biologicas at La Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. She joined researchers Professor Stefan Gelcich, Professor Juan Carlos Castillo from La Catolica and Dr Duan Biggs, a post doctorate from the Environmental Decisions Group at the University of Queensland. Katrina writes about her experience.
During my three months in Chile, I conducted innovative research in the field of marine spatial planning. Using the spatial planning software Marxan with Zones, I analysed different management decisions that could be made with the aim of maximising invertebrate and reef fish abundance, while minimising cost. While in Chile I had the chance to visit several caletas (fishing collectives), and Chile's oldest marine reserve. This trip served to emphasise the small scale of the study region, and the close knit organisational structures of the fishing communities found in Chile. It was also during this trip that Chile was struck by a large ‘temblor'. It registered at 5.7 on the Richter scale, and had people shrieking across high rises in Santiago. On the coast it was merely mistaken as the rumble of several large trucks passing.
In Chile I was based in the capital Santiago, at the central campus of La Catolica; one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Chile. The campus is situated right in the centre of the city - across from the famous parque Santa Lucia. With the (still) snow capped mountains in the background, which were (usually) visible through the smog pale (Santiago has a major problem with smog, due to extraneous geographical circumstances), and with the occasional demonstration ringing out in the background, the visit's 2.5 months came and went in a flurry of meetings, empanadas and the occasional sworn expletive at various GIS programs. The visit afforded a valuable insight into Chilean marine management, demonstrated why not many people choose to work with GIS, and permitted an appreciation of several aspects of the research lifestyle of Chile (like how to be productive with only instant coffee on hand).
The end result of the trip was a study of the marine management of the Chilean central region - one which holds the promise to bring new perspectives to this field; and the promise of many more future collaborations.
Katrina Davis, (ARE PhD student) (+61 8) 6488 1495