Mesoamerican Regional

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  • Nov
  • 18

Information on Keynote Speakers

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Topics Keynote Speakers

Ecotourism Planning in Protected Areas

Randall Garcia
Coordinator of the Conservation for Development Program
Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, Costa Rica
Community Involvement and Community based Ecotourism James Dion
Director of Ecotourism and Community Development Program
RARE Center for Tropical Conservation
Ecotourism as a Business Activity Raul Arias
Canopy Tower, Panama

Joy Grant
Vice-President & Managing Director of the Atlantic Conservation RegionThe Nature Conservancy

Ecotourism Policies at the National Level
Ignacio March
Director, Selva Maya Corridor
Conservation International – Mexico
Ecotourism Policies at the Regional and International Levels Stephen Edwards
Americas Region Manager, Ecotourism Department
Conservation International

Megan Epler Wood
The International Ecotourism Society

Ecotourism Planning in Protected Areas

Randall Garcia is a Forester who holds a Master’s degree in Ecoturism. His profesional experience has mainly been in the areas of reforestation and planning and managing of protected areas. Currently he is the Coordinator of the Program for Conservation for Development of the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad located in Costa Rica.

Community Involvement and Community based Ecotourism

James Dion is Director of the Ecotourism and Community Development Program at the RARE Center for Tropical Conservation. Previous to his work with the RARE Center he was the Ecotourism Director at Pronatura Veracruz in Mexico. His interest in conserving tropical biodiversity, and in linking ecotourism to conservation and community development, is an outgrowth of his over 15 years experience as a river and outdoor guide/outfitter working throughout North, Central and South America and Europe.

Ecotourism as a Business Activity

Raúl Arias de Para studied economics in the United States where he obtained a Master’s degree in International Finance from the University of Virginia. His experience spans from banker and entrepeneur to politician and goverment excutive. For the last ten years, he´s being involved with ecotourism, bird research and conservation. He is memeber of the Smithsonian Foundation, Audubon Society of Panamá, Friends of the Harpey Eagle Foundation and Vice-President of the Sustainable Development Association for El Valle of Antón. In 1999, he founded Canopy Tower, an eco-hotel located at an old U.S. Air Force Radar Tower in the Soberania National Park. Specializing in the observation of avifauna, Canopy Tower has being recognized by many magazines and international organizations as one of the best places in the world for bird watching.

A. Joy Grant dedicated Belizean environmentalist having worked in the conservation field for over fourteen years. She is currently Vice-President and Managing Director of the Atlantic Conservation Region of The Nature Conservancy. This Region comprises thirteen States in the Eastern United States, the Caribbean, and Central America. She is also a member of The Conservancy’s Executive Leadership Team that sets its overall strategic direction and establishes organizational priorities. Prior to this, Mrs. Grant established, developed and was Executive Director of Programme for Belize, a conservation organization committed to the sustainable development of Belize, which holds 268,000 acres of land in trust. A. Joy Grant also served her country in the Foreign Service as Counselor and Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Belize in Washington D.C. She also has over ten years comprehensive experience in international and development banking.

Ecotourism Policies at the National Level

Ignacio J. March Mifsut holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Mexico City’s Metropolitan University (1979?1984), and a Masters degree in Wildlife Management and Conservation at the Regional Program of the University at Heredia, Costa Rica (1987-1990). From 1983 to 1999, he served as a senior researcher at two Federal Research Institutes in Southern Mexico. From 1999 to 2000, he coordinated Conservation International’s (CI) activities in the Lacandon Rainforest of Chiapas. Since 2001 to now, he is Director of the Maya Rainforest Corridor at Conservation Interational – Mexico. Ignacio has dedicated the past 18 years of his career to working for the protection of the Maya Rainforest and its rich biodiversity as well as in the improvement of the standard of living of local people. He has captured and shared his work in conservation and community developed through the publication of a book and fifteen articles in several scientific journals and magazines.

Ecotourism Policies at the Regional and International Levels

Megan Epler Wood is the President of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). Since 1990, she has worked with board members, advisors, and members from around the world to shape an organization that defines ecotourism as a tool to conserve natural resources and provide sustainable development opportunity worldwide. She has acted as spokesperson and lecturer on these issues for TIES and instructor of customized training workshops for governments, NGOs, and the private sector in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Trinidad, Tahiti, Fiji, Western Samoa, Costa Rica, Kenya, and Brazil. She taught an annual international workshop on Ecotourism Planning and Management for The George Washington University for five years in Washington D.C. during the 1990s. Epler Wood is a strong proponent of guidelines and evaluation programs for the ecotourism industry and a well-known analyst on the issue of ecotourism certification. She was the editor of the first international Ecotourism Guidelines for Nature Tour Operators in 1993. She has researched how community participation can be improved in ecotourism, and published an America Verde report on this issue for the Latin America Division of The Nature Conservancy in 1998, and was the guest editor of the 1999 issue of Cultural Survival Magazine on Ecotourism, Sustainable Development and Cultural Survival. Epler Wood collaborated with the United Nations Environment Programme on her latest publication Ecotourism: Principles, Practices & Policies for Sustainability. The text is due for publication in January 2002, and will be the premiere reference text during the International Year of Ecotourism 2002 and beyond.

Stephen Edwards is responsible for the management, development, implementation, fundraising, and programmatic aspects of Conservation International ecotourism projects in the Americas Region. He works collaboratively with more than 12 of CI’s country programs in the Americas, as well as with other CI programs around the world. Mr. Edwards has overseen and supported ecotourism projects in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Costa Rica, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, Ghana, Botswana, China, and the Philippines, and has represented CI’s ecotourism programs at international conferences of governments and non-governmental organizations. Mr. Edwards received his Bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and economics from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and his master’s degree in resource recreation and tourism from the University of Idaho. He recently published a report for the OAS, an article in the Interamerican Investment Corporation Annual Report, and has a chapter in print on ecotourism policy in the Americas.

List of Guest Speakers
Topics Guest Speakers
Ecotourism Planning in Protected Areas
Seleni Matus
Programme for Belize and Mesoamerican Ecotourism Alliance
Community Involvement and Community based Ecotourism Juan Carlos Martinez
Foundation Cocibolca, Nicaragua

Ricardo Steiner and Rafael Sambula

Luis Arcos
Escudo Jaguar, Mexico

Ecotourism as a Business Activity
Mick Flemming
Chaa Creek Cottages, Belize
Ecotourism Policies at the National Level
Valerie Woods
Protected Areas Conservation Trust, Belize
Ecotourism Policies at the Regional and International Levels Ronald Sanabria
Rainforest Alliance, Costa Rica

Saul Blanco
Association Alianza Verde, Guatemala

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