BHP Billiton and The Nature Conservancy today announced a project to permanently conserve the Valdivian Coastal Reserve in southern Chile, an area recognized as a priority site for its biodiversity.
The project will protect 50,000 hectares of native forest and endemic species in the Los Ríos region. These include millennia-old alerce trees (Fitzroya cupressoides), pudú deer (Pudu puda) and other species of Chilean flora and fauna threatened with extinction. In addition, more than 2.5 million trees will be planted in the largest ever initiative to restore native forest in Chile, resulting in the recovery of up to 3,500 hectares currently planted with non-native eucalyptus. The project will also support neighboring communities with sustainable employment opportunities in forest restoration, sustainable fishing and eco-tourism.
The project is the first in Chile designed to generate carbon credits from preservation of native forest and the avoidance of deforestation and forest degradation. The credits are expected to be issued according to the standards set by the Verified Carbon Standard and the Climate, Community & Biodiversity Alliance. The Nature Conservancy will own all rights to the credits.
Under the terms of the agreement, BHP Billiton will invest $20.4 million to secure the permanent conservation of the Reserve and an endowment for ongoing management of the property. The Nature Conservancy, which purchased the Valdivian Coastal Reserve in 2003, will be responsible for leading the conservation activities. Its work in the Reserve is based on a scientific assessment that seeks to balance community development with conservation of the rich diversity of its ecosystems, species and biological processes.
The project was chosen for funding by BHP Billiton in a selection process managed by Conservation International. It is the second global conservation initiative identified for support by the two organizations and reflects their partnership’s aim of conserving areas of high biodiversity and ecosystem value that are of national or international conservation significance. These activities are additional to the Company’s commitment to develop dedicated management plans for all its sites that include controls to prevent, minimize, rehabilitate and offset impacts to biodiversity and the related benefits derived from ecosystems.
BHP Billiton Copper President, Peter Beaven, said: “The Valdivian Costal Reserve is home to a huge variety of plants and animals that can only be found in Chile. We are proud that BHP Billiton is playing its part in preserving this unique habitat for future generations.”
“The Nature Conservancy is fostering and practicing participatory conservation in the Reserve. Communities, scientists, public officials, other NGOs, and private companies have all contributed to this conservation model, which is already a model for other places in Chile, Latin America and around the world”, says Mike Zellner, The Nature Conservancy’s Southern Andes Conservation Program Director.
For more information, please contact:
María Inés Urquieta
Marketing Manager of The Nature Conservancy
Phone: (562) 23417027 / Cell: (569) 84892740