Meet Our Team


 Director of Latin American Program 


Soraya Delgado


M.Sc., Biology, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

B.S., Environmental Sciences, Florida International University

Faculty at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)


Soraya MasaguaralSoraya is a Conservation Biologist and Environmental Educator, native of the coastal region of Ecuador. She studied Biology at University of Guayaquil in Ecuador and has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Sciences from Florida International University. Soraya has worked on conservation of biodiversity and research projects in diverse regions of Ecuador and Venezuela including the Galapagos Islands, the Andean region, Pacific rainforests and the Amazonian region. Since 2004, she and her husband Dr. Karl Berg have helped develop a long-term study of wild parrot communication in Venezuela established by scientists from U.C. Berkeley. 


From 2010 to 2012, Soraya worked as Field Coordinator at the Community Science Institute in Ithaca, New York, coordinating and implementing the collection of groundwater samples from private drinking water wells for comprehensive baseline testing of gas well "signature chemicals" prior hydro-fracking activities in NYS. Currently, Soraya lives in Brownsville, TX where she teaches Biology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley  and works as Latin American Director at Great Wilderness, a small NGO whose mission is to support protection and preservation of tropical biodiversity in South America. Soraya is highly respected for the community outreach projects that she developed while working at Jatun Sacha Foundation in Ecuador. 


Soraya is interested in a diverse array of environmental issues concerned with the complex physiological relationships of plant and animal communities and their implications for natural resources management amidst the ever-growing demands of human society. 

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Research Director


Karl Berg, Ph.D.,

Karl'’s interests in tropical birds stem from a decade in Ecuador that began with a study of seed dispersal in toucans. Food plant collections revealed an undescribed endemic genus of tree, now called the Ecuadorian tree (Ecuadendron).  He then spent several years creating the first bird species lists for seven protected areas in Ecuador. 


To document avian diversity, he created a collection of audio recordings as voucher specimens for a large number of species.  One of the most endangered birds in Ecuador is the Great Green Macaw. Karl spent a year studying their movements in relation to food production, weekly monitored 100 trees, and provided some of the first evidence that larger trees produce more food – a central, but until then unsubstantiated, tenet of forest restoration.  He returned to the USA and earned a M.Sc. under Victor Apanius, at Florida International University. His thesis was the first to identify the variables that trigger the onset to the dawn chorus in a tropical forest.  


Despite being a widely recognized example of community behavior in birds, the dynamics of dawn choruses remained poorly-understood.  Karl found that birds that forage higher in the forest and have larger eyes began to sing earlier than those lower in the forest with smaller eyes. However, not all birds followed this pattern.   Parrots were a persistent exception. To find out why parrots followed their own agenda, Karl visited the best known parrot population – a long-term study of Green-rumped Parrotlets, led by Steve Beissinger, in the Llanos of Venezuela.  Here were hundreds of parrots with permanent color bands, breeding histories and complex vocal dialogues a few feet off the ground.  It became apparent that this was the ideal population in which to learn about parrot vocal communication.  He then applied to the Ph.D. program at Cornell, where faculty member Jack Bradbury was overseeing studies of communication in wild parrots in seven countries and three continents.  Karl did his Ph.D. thesis on vocal communication in parrotlets and a pos-tdoc with Professor Steve Beissinger at UC Berkeley. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Karl is currently an Assistant Professor of Avian Ecology in the Department of Biological Science at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) in Brownsville. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Executive Director

Bill Steele, Executive Director of Great Wilderness, is a Habitat Restoration Specialist and Founder of Land Art, a general engineering and landscape firm, has constructed over one hundred public and private projects in Northern California in collaboration with government entities, nonprofits and individuals. Bill chooses projects that express his dedication to the environment; he is profoundly concerned about stewardship and restoration of open spaces, parks, public spaces, contaminated urban habitats and creeks. His love of nature inspires his quest for Amazing Adventures in environments abundant with life. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


Regional Representative


Romina Ordonez has joined GW as our Regional Representative for Latin America. Among her responsibilities, Romina works closely with GW’s partner organizations and communities providing coordination, supervision and support for current programs in Ecuador.

Based in Quito-Ecuador, Romina specializes in visual arts, video, edition, and photography. She has made several videos for GW as well as other organizations such the Municipio de Quito, UCLA Latin American Research Center, and has collaborated with several other independent productions. She received her bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting at San Francisco de Quito University and she is currently working towards a Master in Liberal Arts. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Intern and Project Manager

Ing. Estefani  Carolina Izurieta Ponton, Santiago of Guayaquil Catholic University


Estefani picGreat Wilderness is excited to welcome aboard Ing. Stefani Izurieta, our new first Ecuadorian intern, for the Fonmsoeam project in Esmeraldas. Estefani is a Commercial Engineer, native from Ecuador. She studied International Business Management and Engineering at Santiago of Guayaquil Catholic University and is currently working as  Analyst of Commercial Promotion at the Ecuadorian Corporation of Exports and Investment (CORPEI)


As an intern at FONMSOEAM, she will help connect its members to the international cocoa market in order for them to receive a better price for their product; assist farmers receive and maintain organic and fair-trade certifications; provide technical and environmental training to its members to grow their product more efficiently and environmentally-friendly; and  diffuse the money gained from the sale of cocoa into social projects within the communities. Estefani is concerned with the socioeconomic and ecologic implications of the highly productive cocoa clon CCN51 aimed to boost cocoa yields in Ecuador.




Welcome, Everyone


 Greetings! - Great Wilderness continues to work on biodiversity preservation in both Ecuador and Venezuela. We are succeeding in our mission to "Help People Help Nature."

 Please consider donating to Great Wilderness. It is easy to go to our website and donate. Thanks in advance for any help you can give to our organization.

 Volunteer and Internship Program

Our goal is to support, strengthen and enhance our partners conservation program by sending individuals interested in working and supporting the protection of Ecuador and Venezuela native forest and ecosystems. (Read more)


The Parrotlet Project


Do Parrots Name Their Babies?

While studying Green-rumplet Parrolets in Venezuela, National Geographic Explorer and Great Wilderness Board member, Dr. Karl Berg, discovered an incredibly rare behavior.

The Parrolet Project (Video)

read more


Forest Fund

Dear Family and Friends,


Earth Day 2018 marks the celebration of a two-year partnership with Forest Fund. Forest Fund supports conservation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil with the help of Great Wilderness and donors worldwide. Together we are turning landowners into forest protectors by providing opportunity cost payments to the landowner to keep the forest standing in one of the most ecologically important and threatened areas of the world. Read more     



Please consider supporting our efforts.