The landscapes of Hacienda Puchegüín
Distinctive landscape Cochamó, where Hacienda Puchegüín is located © Catalina Claro

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Organizations launch a campaign to protect massive private property in Chilean Patagonia

Puelo Patagonia, The Nature Conservancy, Freyja Foundation, Patagonia Inc., and Wyss Foundation launch the Conserva Puchegüín initiative.

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  • Puelo Patagonia, The Nature Conservancy, Freyja Foundation, Patagonia Inc., and Wyss Foundation launch the Conserva Puchegüín initiative to acquire Hacienda Puchegüín, a property encompassing almost 133,000 hectares of pristine Patagonian wilderness in the Los Lagos region of southern Chile. Members of the initiative have entered into a purchase agreement with the property’s owners (with preferential option) to acquire the property, which has been listed for sale since 2022.
  • ‘Conserva Puchegüín,’ the entity comprising the above organizations, seeks to raise USD 78 million to protect the unique ecological and cultural heritage of the remote Cochamó Valley and surrounding communities, promoting sustainable economic development and creating one of the largest biological corridors in Latin America.

Chile, April 28, 2024. Conserva Puchegüína collection of local and international conservation organizations led by Chilean NGO Puelo Patagonia – announced today that they have launched a campaign to acquire and protect Hacienda Puchegüín, a 132,995-hectare parcel of private land in the Cochamó region of Chilean Patagonia. Known throughout the world as “The Yosemite of South America,” Cochamó is home to thousand-meter granite walls; glaciers, rivers, and plunging waterfalls; massive groves of alerce trees; and many endangered and endemic species. The region is also home to a number of small communities whose traditional way of life still thrives. The Conserva Puchegüín campaign kicks off following the successful signing of an agreement between the current landowners, Puelo Patagonia and The Nature Conservancy, backed by Freyja Foundation, Patagonia Inc., and Wyss Foundation.

Hacienda Puchegüín caught the attention of local and international conservation organizations when it was listed for sale in 2022. Though surrounded by 1,630,000 hectares of Chilean and Argentine parks, reserves and nature sanctuaries, the property has lacked the legal and environmental protection necessary to shield it from a wide variety of threats -such as land fragmentation- that have endangered the area in the past. Thus, the acquisition of Puchegüín represents not only an opportunity to protect the region’s ecological and cultural heritage, but also to ensure the integrity of one of the most important biological corridors in Latin America.

The campaign seeks to raise 78 million USD which, along with purchasing the entire property, will facilitate the planning and design of a conservation and management plan for the region, as well as fortify local infrastructure and services. The alliance aims to complete this project in phases over an estimated seven-year period.

Mountains of Cochamó
Mountains of Cochamó The "South American Yosemite" © Rodrigo Manns

Mountains of Cochamó

Puchegüín: a place of extreme ecological value for Chile and the world

The Puchegüín area, known the world over for its natural beauty and geologic grandeur, contains more than 58,000 hectares of primary forest – a resource disappearing at an alarming rate around the world. This figure includes 18,000 hectares of endangered alerce trees – one of the world's longest living species of trees – accounting for roughly 10% of the alerce habitat in Chile. These temperate forests contribute to transforming the region into a climatic refuge with its carbon sequestration capacity, the continent’s second-largest carbon sink, with Chilean Patagonia’s extensive forest cover, peatlands, and wetlands storing approximately twice the amount of carbon per hectare as the Amazon.

In addition, Puchegüín also encompasses an enormous reserve of freshwater and provides critical habitat for other endangered and endemic species such as the huemul, the Patagonian vizcacha, the Darwin’s frog, and the monito del monte, one of South America’s only marsupial.

Rivers of Cochamó
Freshwater reserve River crossing the area © Andrés Claro

Rivers of Cochamó

A locally-led initiative of sustainable cultural conservation and responsible economic development

Puchegüín is home to a unique mountain community with a deeply rooted Gaucho culture, characterized by horsemanship, agrarianism, and small-scale livestock farming. This initiative seeks to develop a model of sustainable economic growth that will support – not destroy – local traditions, culture, and ways of life. Building off of Puelo Patagonia’s local expertise and experience, Conserva Puchegüín not only centers the needs of the local communities as the foundation for any and all development, but also actively seeks their involvement. Conserva Puchegüín respects these communities’ long and successful tenure as stewards of this land, and recognizes their presence as a defense against irresponsible and unsustainable future development.

Thus, purchasing this property will generate a unique opportunity to develop a local economic model based on conservation and ecotourism, which will foster the types of sustainable businesses and trades linked to any new protected area – with the anticipated result being a reduction in poverty, an improvement of wellbeing, and a strengthening of the community’s social fabric.

Map of the area
Hacienda Puchegüín The area has a strategic location as a biological corridor in the Patagonia © Conserva Puchegüín

Map of the area which Conserva Puchegüín aims to protect

Conserva Puchegüín: a unique alliance with a modern vision for the future of conservation

As far back as the early 2010s, NGOs in the Cochamó region have successfully halted a number of high-impact projects slated for this private property. Hacienda Puchegüín's 2022 sale listing sparked concern amongst local communities and conservation groups who have long protected the area, inciting fear that a new owner may lack the requisite knowledge or respect for the territory and its populace. Conserva Puchegüín was formed to combat this possibility. This alliance combines the deep knowledge and local experience of Puelo Patagonia with the global perspective and proven success in large-scale conservation and fundraising projects of The Nature Conservancy, Freyja Foundation, Patagonia Inc., and Wyss Foundation.

Andrés Diez, executive director of Puelo Patagonia, commented, “We are a group of organizations that share a dream: we want to conserve this critical land for its immense environmental and cultural value. For years, Puchegüín was threatened by projects with a different vision than the one held by the local community. This campaign is just the beginning of an even bigger project – a unique opportunity for Cochamó, the country and the world.”

Conserva Puchegüín now embarks on an extensive international campaign aimed at attracting potential donors to the initiative. Alongside international outreach, the alliance will continue to center local community members and authorities, encouraging their active participation and engagement in project design and planning.

Conserva Puchegüín
Kingfisher This area is the habitat for a variety of birds © Claudio Almarza
× Conserva Puchegüín
Conserva Puchegüín
South Andean Deer or Huemul Endangered species which live in the area © Benjamín Valenzuela
× Conserva Puchegüín
Kingfisher This area is the habitat for a variety of birds © Claudio Almarza
South Andean Deer or Huemul Endangered species which live in the area © Benjamín Valenzuela

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 70 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.