With the presence of Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile, the creation of the Alerce Coastal National Park was announced today near Valdivia. This contributes to the protection of a priority conservation zone —both nationally and globally— that encompasses more than 61 thousand acres, of which The Nature Conservancy donated over 23,000 acres.
“Today we celebrate the creation of this new national park, which will help conserve the millenary Alerce forests (similar to North American sequoias) in the Coastal Mountain Range and enhance socio-economic development in nearby communities, adding-on to the Conservancy’s work in the last eight years”, said Francisco Solis, country representative for the Conservancy in Chile.
This new national park represents the largest protected area of the continental temperate rainforests in Chile. Through this new effort the biological value of this newly protected area becomes coherent with the development efforts aimed at tourism and production focused on land’s natural value —the Valdivian Rainforest, in this case.
Since the creation of the Valdivian Coastal Reserve in 2003 in the coastal zone that is today the Los Rios Region in southern Chile, the Conservancy has significantly contributed to the conservation achievements of the country’s temperate rainforest, which is extremely important for its high number of endemic species. Additionally, the Conservancy has supported major successful initiatives to strengthen the relationship between neighboring communities and the Reserve.
The Conservancy donated a portion of the existing Valdivian Coastal Reserve as part of this new conservation initiative to create the Alerce Coastal National Park. Combined, both protected areas add up to185,000 acres, and almost 136,000 acres could additionally become part of the area after a proposal to create a multi-purpose marine protected area is approved to create a substantial public-private conservation area of national relevance.
The Conservancy contributes to sustainable development in this region through the development of economic opportunities for the communities, which contribute to a better quality of life for people and greater participation on their behalf in conservation. One example includes the promotion of sustainable economic activities, especially tourism, in several nearby communities, such as Cadillal, Haupe, Huiro and Chaihuín, through traditional gastronomy and the sale of locally produced handicrafts.
“The excellent collaboration between different public and civil society actors helps protect biodiversity and create a real anchor for tourism development in the region, as well as for research and applied sciences”, said Solis.
In the particular case of Chaihuín, the Government of Chile—in its different levels—and organizations like the Conservancy, work closely with the communities in the area. At the ceremony, the entrepreneurship of a local group of women working in a cooperative producing goods and services, including crafts, traditional food products and other typical goods that are emblematic of the region and have a distinct local accent.
The announcement was also presided by Minister of National Goods Catalina Parot, Minister of Agriculture Luis Mayol, and Juan Andrés Varas, Regional Mayor of the Los Ríos Region.
“In order to protect this treasure [the Valdivian temperate rainforest and the alerce trees]—and this not only belongs to us, because we owe it to the generations to come—we have decided to create this National Park, which will be the first to be entirely located in the Los Ríos Region. This has been possible thanks to the generous donation of more than 24,000 acres by The Nature Conservancy, to whom I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you for this donation, but more than that, for their spirit, commitment, will and care to help us preserve this gem,” President Piñera said during his speech.
This is a milestone for the Conservancy that opens an opportunity in terms of replicating similar collaborative and innovative actions in other regions in the country. Conservation actions like this—for their complexity and the jurisdiction of their land use—require a very high level of cooperation and coordination. The Alerce National Coastal Park is an unprecedented example of confluent efforts and contributions by multiple actors, including communities, the government and community organizations. This represents a major step forward in the strengthening of the National Protected Areas System in Chile.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.