Each month, you can learn about one of the WFC’s visiting International Fellows who has been selected for a six-month assignment to collaborate with forestry practitioners here in the Pacific Northwest. The Fellows are passionate, engaged in their local communities, and committed to driving change in forest management practices around the globe.
Where are you from?
I was born in Chinandega, a city of Nicaragua that is considered the hottest city in our country. Nicaragua is half the size of Oregon with double its population. We are called the land of lakes and volcanos as we have two big beautiful lakes and 28 volcanos, seven of which are active.
What attracted you to the World Forest Institute Fellowship Program?
The fellowship program seemed to be the right fit for me at the moment. I had just recently finished a master degree on Environmental Management at the University of Queensland, Australia, and I wanted to have the opportunity to focus on a research project concerned with small forest landowners and their organizations. So it was really what I was looking for. I found out that Oregon had some resources that I could use and hopefully take lessons from. At first I couldn’t believe this opportunity appeared so my decision to apply was a no-brainer.
What was on your professional and personal wish list of things to accomplish while working at the World Forestry Center?
I wanted to get a closer look and understanding at how the organizations of forest landowners (those who do not have industrial operations) work, especially at the grass-roots level, and see the benefits for members and how these organizations get the necessary funding to accomplish their mission.
I also wanted to gather enough information to present an article about this issue to a peer-reviewed journal, and I am still working on that.
You’ve been here in Portland for six months. What have been some of the highlights for you?
Portland has some beautiful places to go in very short distances such as Mount Hood and Trillium Lake. Public transport is also good and I like the fact you can find many options for international food. Another highlight for me has been Powell’s books. I like that people stay late to look for books and read, making more equal the need of reading than another kind of entertainment.
On the other hand, it has been quite shocking for me, even when I have seen poverty before, the situation of the homeless people in the city of Portland. It’s very sad and you feel quite impotent because you can’t help much. I hope the city and the citizens of Portland find a long-term solution for this situation and be able to prevent more people getting into homelessness.
What’s one of your observations about Oregon or Portland?
People in general are very down-to-earth, kind and helpful. Oregon’s forests are just beautiful. One of the most wonderful memories I take with me is Crater Lake. I have seen stunning places before and Crater Lake has earned its own place among those.
What are you going to miss the most about your experience here?
I will miss the Fellows, the people at the World Forestry Center, my evenings reading at the Director’s Park in downtown, and the pizza near my place!
How has your Fellowship experience changed you?
The fellowship has increased my confidence in my work and in my abilities to connect with people on a professional intercultural context.
It has changed my view about some things in forestry and I realized that we really have to be objective and take into account all stakeholders before making a decision or defending a position. We should strive to get a fair view of things and get rid of prejudices and misconceptions in forestry, as in life in general.
If there is one thing you could bring with you from Portland or Oregon when you return to your country, what would it be?
I would take back the hope to many of the landowners that it is possible to practice forestry that is both environmentally and economically sustainable. Many people in Nicaragua just don’t see that and need training in how to achieve that balance.
I also would like to take with me the trend of integrating more wood in construction projects.
What else can you tell us about yourself?
I love reading, singing, and cats. Actually one of my absolutely favorite authors is Edgar Allan Poe. I am a fan since I am 12 years old. Due to schedule constraints I could not accomplish a personal goal of visiting Yellowstone while I was in the US, so I think you will have me back someday.