Photos of Chilean Patagonia Show Places and Species Worthy of Protection

Remote and mountain areas are among the country’s last large public lands

Photos of Chilean Patagonia Show Places and Species Worthy of Protection
Chilean Patagonia
This public land in the Aysén region of Chilean Patagonia is also a water reserve for the surrounding communities and an emerging rock-climbing destination.
Tomás Munita

Note: This article was updated March 6, 2020, to remove a Chilean term for state-owned land that would mean little to English-language readers.

Chile, which runs for 4,270 kilometers (2,653 miles) from north to south, boasts great and varied ecological wealth: deserts, glaciers, fjords cloaked in sub-Antarctic forests, and high mountain peaks.

Most of the national territory—nearly 55 percent—is owned by the state. And most of those lands and waters are concentrated in the country’s far northern and southern regions, especially Patagonia. Unfortunately, much of the public land in Chilean Patagonia isn’t being actively managed and faces threats, such as degradation and possible concession or sale.

This is true even of some of the state-owned areas designated as protected national assets—the lowest level of government protection—because these areas are safeguarded only on paper, with no resources and personnel to effectively oversee them.

The images below highlight the importance of the Aysén region, and their high conservation potential.

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ partner organizations, including the nongovernmental organizations Puelo Patagonia and Aumen, have identified places and species within fiscal properties—such as the endangered huemul deer, which is endemic to Patagonia, and ancient, intact, primary forests—that hold high conservation value because, for example, they play key roles in climate change mitigation and maintaining the native biodiversity.

Cordon del Avellano
Primary, or ancient, forests are composed of native trees that have remained pristine and haven't been disturbed by humans for centuries. These lenga forests on a fiscal site in the Aysén region are among the last few primary forests left on the planet.
Tomás Munita
Chilean Patagonia
A mountain lake shimmers in the fiscal property of Río Ibáñez, Aysén region. The surrounding mountains and broad valley hint at Chilean Patagonia’s massive size, and its many conservation-worthy areas.
Tomás Munita
Chilean Patagonia
A gaucho and his horse in the commune of Río Ibáñez, Aysén region. The use of this territory dates to the first explorers and colonizers who arrived in the Chilean Patagonia about 130 years ago.
Tomás Munita
Chilean Patagonia
A gaucho and his dog contemplate a lenga forest in the commune of Río Ibáñez, Chilean Patagonia. In Patagonia, some communities are promoting the conservation and sustainable use of areas of high natural and scenic value.
Tomás Munita
Cordon del Avellano
In this fiscal property of the Aysén region, there are mainly lenga trees, a species native to the temperate forests of Patagonia. Native forests shelter unique ecosystems, retain carbon dioxide, and are refuges for endemic species.
Tomás Munita