The Science of Chilean Patagonia Conservation, Finally in English

New translation of research from more than 70 experts showcases the region’s biodiversity—and the need to protect it

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The Science of Chilean Patagonia Conservation, Finally in English
An aerial shot shows the glassy surface of a river cutting through a rocky mountain range speckled with reddish patches of trees. In the background, the river flows into a small lagoon as puffy clouds hovering just over the horizon are backlit by the sun.
The 751,000-acre Patagonia National Park features a vast array of landscapes, from lofty mountains and deciduous forests to steppe and wetlands. A seminal compilation of biodiversity and conservation efforts in Chilean Patagonia is now available in English.
Tomás Munita

With a coastline spanning 62,000 miles and one of the largest estuaries in the world, Chilean Patagonia is a crucial refuge for biodiversity in the face of climate change. Scientific studies consistently show that large, undisturbed natural spaces help promote species diversity, help wildlife and ecosystems better withstand the effects of a shifting climate, and provide numerous benefits—such as clean air and water—to nearby communities.

Yet despite Chilean Patagonia’s tremendous ecological wealth and the vital ecosystem services it provides, until now nobody had published an English-language work on the science and conservation of the region’s ecosystems—or what is needed to effectively protect them.

Now, a new translation of the book, Conservation in Chilean Patagonia: Assessing the State of Knowledge, Opportunities, and Challenges, will help fill that void. In the book, researchers and scientists worked for three years to review and analyze scientific data from more than 70 authors, including experts from the Universidad Austral de Chile and the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity. The compilation covers the region’s biodiversity, including terrestrial, marine, and freshwater ecosystems.

First released in Spanish in 2021, the 600-page book—the most comprehensive collection of scientific knowledge on Chilean Patagonia to date—was translated into English and released online and in print in April.

Published with financial support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the book addresses the importance of conserving this enormous region, which stretches from Reloncaví Sound in the north to the Diego Ramírez Islands in the south.

For example, Conservation in Chilean Patagonia details the ecological importance of numerous Patagonian ecosystems to help decision-makers prioritize their conservation and analyzes the region’s aquaculture industry and its impacts on conservation in Chilean Patagonia.

Pew’s David Tecklin, formerly of the Universidad Austral de Chile, co-edited the book along with Juan Carlos Castilla and Juan J. Armesto of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile’s Ecology Department, and María José Martínez-Harms of the Universidad Santo Tomás’ Center for Research and Innovation in Climate Change.

“Due to its remote nature and large protected areas, Chilean Patagonia is one of the best-conserved regions in the world,” said Tecklin, who also oversaw the book’s translation. But, as the book notes, pressures on ecosystems are ramping up rapidly, and new, more coordinated conservation efforts are needed to safeguard their future.

“Research in Patagonia has expanded in recent decades, but it’s fragmented, which limits its usefulness for decision-making,” added Martínez-Harms, who holds a doctorate in biodiversity and conservation sciences.

“In creating this book,” she said, “we synthesized all available information and consolidated all we know about historical conservation efforts with an eye toward shifting to new models that take communities’ well-being into account.”

The book is open access—free for anyone to read—and is available.

Francisco Solís Germani directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Chilean Patagonia project.

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