The Nature Conservancy’s mission of conserving the lands and waters on which life depends has led to a long history of acquiring and protecting areas that have significant biodiversity across the planet. With the world population projected to reach 9 billion by 2050, there is significant stress already on fragmented natural areas that are reeling from deforestation, disrupted migratory routes, environmental pollution and a rapidly changing climate. As a result, the Conservancy is always looking for opportunities to protect key regions and habitats with global conservation relevance. To help further our mission, and provide lasting preservation, the Conservancy has gained the support of BHP Billiton.
The Valdivian Coastal Reserve is part of an ancient temperate rainforest rising from Chile’s southern coastline. It is a top priority conservation site in Chile (and the world), due to its forest and marine resources. During the last Ice Age, this coastal range served as a freeze-free refuge for a multitude of species found nowhere else on Earth.
Among these unique species are two of the planet’s longest living tree species. Olivillo trees, which can live up to 400 years, survive in large stands only on the western slopes of this range, and alerce trees, which resemble North American giant sequoias, have life spans of up to 3,600 years.
These forests also harbor an incredible wealth of wildlife including one of the world’s largest woodpeckers; one of the world’s smallest deer; a small tree dwelling marsupial (‘mountain monkey’) considered by scientists to be a "living fossil;" at least 58 bird species; and several rare carnivores, such as the southern river otter.
From 2013-2014, a contribution of $8.9 million will be made by BHP Billiton to cover the original acquisition costs of the Valdivian properties, the near-term conservation management activities, and the reforestation work. It is then anticipated that a further $11.5 million will be provided to fund the establishment of a long term endowment, from which conservation activities can be funded for the long-term. Any earnings obtained from forestry or carbon credits will be reinvested in the conservation work. By bringing in new stakeholders and strengthening the commitment of various public, private and civil society actors in favor of preserving this emblematic land for Chile and the world, the project can protect biodiversity across the region, and potentially encourage other major companies to act towards a similar goal.