Ashoka_logo2Since 2008, Alter Terra has been a nonprofit coastal and marine ecosystem conservation organization utilizing natural systems design to address environmental challenges in countries around the globe. Alter Terra is a registered Civil Association in Mexico, and in the U.S. Alter Terra is a project of Earth Island Institute.

Our Founding Director, Oscar Romo became an Ashoka Fellow in 2014.

Our mission is to lead in the restoration, protection, conservation and sustainable development of coastal zones through the design and implementation of innovative and effective educational outreach, scientific research, and infrastructure projects that promote healthy terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Our vision is to become a reliable and trusted scientific resource and environmental planning partner to public, private and government agencies in the development of sustainable, locally-specific solutions that conserve and protect natural resources world-wide.

Our primary purpose is to promote and operate international charitable projects that include:

  1. science-based environmental conservation and infrastructure projects
  2. conservation of natural resources through sustainable development and planning
  3. environmental preservation and conservation research, training and education
  4. prevention and reduction of water, air and soil pollution
  5. economic advancement through community capacity building and sustainable urban design practices
  6. watershed-based, regional and bi-national planning and development projects and initiatives
  7. promote natural systems design and ecosystem-based solutions for impoverished communities and degraded ecosystems

Principal Geographic Area Served: Global

Home Base: San Diego County, California and Tijuana, Baja California

Funders:  Our projects are made possible by the generosity of public, private, and governmental grant makers and the countless number of volunteers who graciously devote their time to our projects. In the U.S. we are sponsored by Earth Island Institute (www.earthisland.org).

Alter Terra’s Tijuana River Watershed Projects focus on the preservation and protection of the Tijuana River Valley  by preventing flows of sediment and solid wastes that originate in the higher-elevated regions of Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. To date, our scientific research has been concentrated in a particular sub-basin community called Los Laureles Canyon. The hydrology and topography of this canyon cause trash and sediment to drain directly into nationally protected wetlands during coastal storm events. Because its location calls on two different nations for the care and preservation of its diverse wildlife and plants, the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve was named “a wetland of international importance” by the United Nations Ramsar Convention in 2005. The wetland and saltwater marshes are in dire need of protection for birds that come to rest during migratory seasons and animals that use the marshes as habitats and nests. Protection of this particular estuary is critical as it represents one of the last remaining estuaries in California; all but five percent of California estuaries have been lost to development. Alter Terra projects consist of many small concentrated efforts that contribute to the overall goal of watershed preservation. These smaller tasks include tracking flows of trash from coastal canyons, sediment and trash source identification and reduction infrastructure, and working with Tijuana’s coastal canyon residents to create sustainable communities.