Chilean Patagonia is rich in natural wonders, from soaring snowcapped peaks and glacially sculpted river valleys to vast forests, rocky coastline, and mirror-still lakes. To date, development has been light in this region, but because that could change at any time, nine conservation organizations have formed a working group, Patagonia Mar y Tierra, to strengthen protections in Chilean Patagonia.
The nonprofit entities—Aumen, Centro Ballena Azul (Blue Whale Center), Melimoyu Foundation, Omora Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Puelo Patagonia, Terram Foundation, Tompkins Conservation, and WWF—are committed to establishing a network of marine and terrestrial parks that meet the highest scientific and ethical standards and respect the rights and customs of the people who live in and around the region.
Chilean Patagonia is already home to land parks, five of which were created in the past year. Patagonia Mar y Tierra plans to work with the government and stakeholders to strengthen the management of those parks while also pursuing creation of new ones.
They aim to accomplish this by developing networks that connect the relevant actors of the region and the country to conduct studies in hopes of supporting the case for increased protections. In addition, the group seeks to promote public-private collaboration for conservation—partnerships that could include landowners and philanthropists.
An important piece of this challenge is encouraging Chilean leaders to create and manage a public network of marine protected areas that complements terrestrial protection and covers critical habitats of threatened species in Patagonia. This is vital: 38 percent of Patagonia consists of archipelagos, yet marine and coastal safeguards in Chile lag far behind those for land conservation.
The coalition members are confident that our coordinated long-term efforts will help the Chilean government and its partners overcome historical challenges, such as a lack of funding, to effectively implementing and managing protected areas. If successful, this could launch a new phase in conservation management in the country in which protected areas help not only to maintain biodiversity but also to improve the well-being of the more than 20 gateway communities around Patagonia’s parks.
Francisco Solis Germani directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ work in Chile’s Patagonia region.