Coyhaique, Chile — The National Forestry Corporation (Conaf in Spanish) and Oceana signed an unprecedented cooperation agreement this Wednesday to conduct joint work on the land and marine conservation of State Protected Wildlife Areas in Patagonia. This project will initiate its implementation in Tortel (Aysén Region), in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, the Laguna San Rafael National Park, the Katalalixar National Reserve and the future Coastal and Marine Protected Area for Multiple Purposes proposed by the commune.
“This is the first time in Chile that two institutions, one protecting forests and the other protecting oceans, establish an alliance of this sort to collaborate in a strategy that addresses the complex integration of land and marine ecosystems in an efficient, effective and joint manner. This is a great step forward that positions our country at the forefront of biodiversity preservation,” said Liesbeth van der Meer, executive director of Oceana Chile.
This initiative came about as an answer to the need of coordinating the Coastal and Marine Protected Area for Multiple Purposes (AMCP-MU) –a proposal launched by Oceana, the community and Municipality of Tortel, and the Ministry of Environment—and the marine areas of the commune’s wildlife protected set-asides, which are managed by Conaf and account for over 80% of the commune’s territory.
“This alliance gives us the chance to have more information available on the marine and land biodiversity present in these territories, and to combine efforts towards their conservation,” said Conaf regional director, Leonardo Yáñez. “It’s important for the institution that manages the State Protected Wildlife Areas, which include land and marine areas, to join forces with an organization that specializes in marine conservation. This strengthens the role of Conaf by improving management of these territories,” he added.
The AMCP-MU includes a glacier area near Tortel and an ocean area that is part of the Golfo de Penas, which combined with the marine areas of the Katalalixar National Reserve and national parks Laguna San Rafael and Bernardo O’Higgins, will create a large system of protected areas with an extension of more than 11,000 km2. The aim is to provide comprehensive protection for the marine and land ecosystems of this signature area of Patagonia.
The agreement includes commitments such as scientific and technical cooperation in ecosystem research projects and consultancies for natural and cultural heritage management, training for Conaf and Oceana staff, and actions to promote science and environmental education.
“This agreement sets a precedent and is a reference for future efforts in land-marine conservation matters. It’s essential for us to unite in order to drive sustainable development and to protect sites of such huge ecological significance like Tortel and the Chilean Patagonia,” stated van der Meer.