Fellow Since 1997
Grupo Guias Cañe
This profile was prepared when Rodney Walker was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
Drawing on his decades of experience teaching urban dwellers how to appreciate nature, Rod Walker has launched an environmental protection program in the south of Chile that combines eco-tourism, income generation, and education. Located in the Cañi forest, the first privately-run sanctuary of its sort in Chile, Rod's program is training local guides to lead eco-tourism excursions and to educate locals and tourists alike about the fragility, the needs, and the natural wonder of the region. In so doing, Rod is emphasizing the educational side of eco-tourism while at the same time generating jobs and income for the local economy. Moreover, Rod is making his guide training courses available nationwide and building a network of guides and other organizations committed to environmental protection through eco-tourism. He has created a guide certification program that, pending approval from the National School of Mountaineering, will systematize the training of local guides. Through his work, Rod is spreading the idea that Chile's diverse and rich bioregions cannot survive unless citizens are given an opportunity to explore and appreciate the natural richness of their country.