The Chilean Patagonia features enormous archipelagos, soaring peaks, dense forests, crystal-clear lakes, rivers teeming with wildlife, and much more. The region is home to numerous ecosystems, all of which are rich in biodiversity and in need of long-term protection. Today the Chilean government announced a major public-private collaboration that aims to provide long-term conservation of wild lands in Patagonia and invest in communities throughout the region.
The launch of that effort, the Route of the Parks Fund: Protecting Patagonia Forever, commits Chile to working with a coalition of national and international groups to secure the long-term protection of Patagonia´s national parks while ensuring that neighboring communities benefit from rapidly expanding nature-based tourism. The Pew Charitable Trusts and Tompkins Conservation will lead the coalition, working closely with the government of Chile in pursuit of these goals.
The project targets the Ruta de los Parques (Route of the Parks), a 1,700-mile-long network of national parks in southern Chile, where engagement will focus on the primary gateway communities between Puerto Montt and Cape Horn. Supporting the sustainable development of these communities is essential for the future of Patagonia and helps establish well-managed parks as a foundation for residents’ prosperity.
The Route of the Parks Fund is a new approach to conservation in Chile. It builds off a finance model that has successfully leveraged private investments to promote permanent protections for natural resources in countries such as Costa Rica, Brazil, Canada, and Bhutan. The Chilean project is unique in that it proposes to give equal attention to community benefits and enhanced nature protections. Here, private contributions will complement increases in public investment in park management until the government ultimately assumes full fiscal responsibility through sources such as tourism revenue.
The investments will strengthen the capacity and resources of Chile’s parks management agency and help communities prepare for a rise in tourism along the Route of the Parks.
This launch marks a major step by a nation that has already shown its intent to be a global leader in conservation. Chile has a long-standing commitment to the conservation of its natural and cultural heritage. The project promises to sustain and enhance the country’s investments in its national parks while helping neighboring communities thrive as a result of the country’s leadership in conservation.
This is a unique opportunity to give Chile’s national parks the world-class protections they deserve. Working with the gateway communities of the national parks of Patagonia, and through the application of science and technical support, this innovative fund will help ensure that the heritage of the parks is conserved for future generations.
Today’s announcement follows a new global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform, which found that successful conservation outcomes depend on adaptive governance, sustained funding, strong societal engagement, effective and equitable benefit-sharing, and monitoring and enforcement of rules.
Although those findings set a high bar for countering the challenges facing the natural world, Chile and its nongovernmental organization partners are showing they’re up to the task. The Route of the Parks Fund is a proactive, powerful, and sustainable conservation expansion that should serve as an example for governments throughout the world.
Francisco Solís Germani directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ work in Chile’s Patagonia region.