Report on Strategic Planning Meeting in La Paz
(excerpted from the Research Committee Meeting Minutes, Dec 11, 2001)
Dr. Hager explained in a summarized way the organization and principal outcome of the Strategic Planning Workshop in La Paz. (Nov 8 and 9, 2001) With participation of 14 Mexican scientists plus ten members of Staff. The workshop participants were asked to answer ten questions:
- What are the research priorities for the Peninsula of Baja California and the Sea of Cortés for the next ten years?
- Basically, areas of High conservation value and concern like the Agua Verde-Punta Mechudo Conservation Corridor; the Gulf Islands; wetlands; and remote mountains.
- Who are the major Research Collaborators?
- SDNHM currently has collaborators such as CICESE, CIBNOR, UABCS and UABC. However, CI and The Nature Conservancy could be possible collaborators/funders.
- How do we coordinate our efforts with conservation priorities and conservation organizations?
- Requires a Director of BRCC acting as a Liaison and Unit head.
- What are the potential funding sources?
- Several identified sources for us; basically only possible with joint research, conservation approach and priorities.
- Is a biannual Baja Research Symposium and publication the best way to disseminate results and gain participation? How would it best be organized?
- Needs further study. Several symposia already exist. However there is a great need for increased publications. The creation of a website to serve as a clearinghouse for all research in the Peninsular California region was discussed.
- Is there a need for a field research station? Where? Who would participate?
- No, Museum field research moves year to year and does not require long term monitoring as in ecological studies. However, a permanent museum location in Baja California is very desirable.
- Would a closer collaboration between research institutions, complete with a Memorandum of Understanding, be of use in pursuing our goals-expeditions, collecting permits, funding, symposia, publications, etc?
- MOU's are important especially with a common research agenda. Should occur first between individuals, then between institutions. MOU's may facilitate funding.
- What are the external threats to our priorities? What are the internal threats?
- Among the external threats are the difficulties with collecting permits on both sides of the border. Other threats include: the economy, limited funding sources, and problems with customs agencies on both side of the border (i.e., greatly complicates/restricts the transportation of specimens).
- Among the internal threats, potential bad management, lack of staff, lack of a BRCC director, lack of financial support for research.
- What are the San Diego Natural History Museum's research position priorities?
- There was basic agreement on the top four hiring priorities, with the rest viewed as opportunity driven hires. 1st - Director of BRCC (could be interim), 2nd - Curator of Entomology, 3rd - building endowment for Curator of Herpetology, 4th - BRCC grant writer.
- What is the need for and priority of Bioinformatics at the San Diego Natural History Museum in the next ten years? Is there a common system for our Mexican partners?
- There are existing databases in Mexico that can serve as good models, such as those developed by CONABIO and CECARENA. There is a need for the creation of databases for various BRCC collections (e.g., entomology). There is also a need for integration of the existing diverse departmental databases.