Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC): UC signs agreement with the University of California and its 41 nature reserves

Promoting collaborative studies, as well as establishing exchange programs for academics and students are some of the aspects of the memorandum of understanding with the US institution, which manages the largest university system of natural reserves in the world. The following is a report from the latest edition of Vision.

Promote joint research in various fields, such as the causes and consequences of climate change, the interaction between humans and their environment and health, socio-ecological processes and their effects on ecosystems such as forests, valleys, mountains and coastal areas .

That is the purpose of the memorandum of understanding signed between UC and the University of California. The signed memorandum includes the possibility of developing comparative research integrating the
41 protected reserves managed by the American university in California. This system of natural reserves (NRS) has an area of ​​about 306,000 hectares, which makes it the largest area maintained by a university at an international level.


For its part, the Catholic University will contribute with its seven regional centers and stations located in unique ecosystems in the southern hemisphere, which have similarities to those represented in the NRS. This is how both institutions will be able to share and collate the results of studies carried out in these reserves and stations, strengthening and integrating monitoring, research, teaching and linking actions with the environment.

“We are very excited about the strong support from the NRS in moving this agreement forward, which is clear evidence of the mutual benefit we will gain from working together. We hope to carry out joint and comparative research that will allow us in the future to cover a wide range of latitudes throughout the Pacific Ocean, which includes training initiatives and future innovations that I am sure will emerge from this agreement”, says the UC Vice-Rector for Research Pedro Bouchon.

“We hope to carry out joint and comparative research that will allow us in the future to cover a wide range of latitudes throughout the Pacific Ocean” -Pedro Bouchon, UC Vice-Rector for Research

The associate director of the System of Natural Reserves of the University of California, Michael Kisgen, also valued the alliance.

“We are delighted to be able to partner with such a respected institution and its diverse network of field stations,” says Kisgen. The authority adds that “this agreement gives students and scientists from both organizations access to a variety of environments that are distinct but remarkably complementary.”

The reserves of the North American institution include varied examples of California ecosystems, such as oak forests, deserts, coniferous forests and coastal environments, as well as stations in emblematic and world-renowned places, such as Yosemite National Park, famous for its sequoias and the granite massif “El Capitan”. More than 2,100 species of native plants are estimated in the NRS system, whose investigations have given rise to more than 1,100 publications between 2016 and 2020.

“This agreement gives students and scientists from both organizations access to a variety of environments that are distinct yet remarkably complementary” – Michael Kisgen, associate director of the University of California Natural Reserve System

Five fields of action

One of the central themes of this agreement refers to the learning and knowledge that can be extracted from the experience that NRS has had in its more than 50 years of operation. This may be of special interest to UC in the process of institutionalization that the university has begun in relation to its Network of Regional Centers and Stations. Sergio Guitart, executive coordinator of RCER UC, points out that they are very interested in the institutionality that NRS of the University of California has built, driven by its academics. “There is a lot of knowledge in governance, management, and administration to catalyze instruction, research, and public engagement that could be highly relevant to Catholic University regional centers and field stations.”

“There is a lot of knowledge in governance, management, and administration to catalyze instruction, research, and public engagement that could be very relevant to the regional centers and field stations of the Catholic University” – Sergio Guitart, executive coordinator of the Network of Centers and UC Regional Stations

The agreement promoted by both institutions establishes the commitment to advance in five areas. First, promote cooperative research and training programs that include monitoring and evaluation with a socio-ecological approach to arid lands, oceans, valleys, lakes and forests, geomorphology, biogeography and predictive modeling, biological-social-cultural interactions, botany and the “One Health” concept, which incorporates the close relationship between the
health of people, animals and the environment.

In another line of work, shared monitoring programs will be designed and searched for in various ecosystems. Likewise, the exchange of professors, professionals and doctoral students will be promoted, both as training courses for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Finally, it is intended to create joint workshops and courses with an interdisciplinary approach that can be offered to UC and University of California students.


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