Patagonia National Parks Network

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What is this network about? Where are these new protected areas? And how will it be financed? Find the answers to these questions here..

What is the new Patagonia National Parks Network?

In March, the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Kristine McDivitt, widow of Tompkins, finally signed the agreement that will add 1.3 million hectares to Chile's protected area system and the first step towards the creation of the Patagonia Parks Network. What is this network about? Where are these new protected areas? And how will it be financed? Find the answers to these questions here.

At the beginning of 2016 Kristine McDivitt, widow of renowned ecologist Douglas Tompkins, offered the donation of 407,000 hectares of land in southern Chile to the Chilean state. One of their conditions? That these be declared as national parks. On that occasion, when McDivitt met with President Bachelet to formalize this proposal, she also raised another interesting request: that the government ceded more than 900,000 hectares located in the southern part of the country to be part of a Future network of national parks.

Photo: Douglas Tompkins and Kris McDivitt ©Sam Beebe

More than a year after this meeting, the Tompkins' dream - and many others - has come true. Last March, President Bachelet celebrated the delivery of the private lands of the Tompkins family to the State; It is the largest donation of private land to the State of Chile.

A historic day for the environment in Chile

Aerial photo of the Black Lake inside the park @Sam Beebe

With the signing of the protocol of agreement signed by the President and McDivitt, the creation of the Patagonia Parks Network took place, an area of ​​4.5 million hectares between the regions of Los Lagos and Magallanes, which will have Official protection. This donation must be made official by a supreme decree, which is expected to be made by the end of this year.

"Great day for Chile! Tompkins' vision, and the will and contributions of the State, create the Patagonia National Parks Network ... the largest land-use project since the 1960s," with these words President Michelle Bachelet celebrated the signing of the agreement in her Twitter account.

And indeed, there was much to celebrate. With 407,625 hectares donated by foundations linked to Tompkins and 949,368 hectares of public land, adds 1.3 million hectares to the more than 14 million hectares of protected areas in Chile.

"If we add this to the creation of the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park and the work we are doing in Rapa Nui, we are bequeathing to the country the greatest creation of protected areas in history," said the President.

Patagonia National Parks Network

The 4.5 million hectares of the Patagonia Parks Network are made up of the new 1.3 million hectares (private and fiscal) donated and the more than 3 million hectares of protected areas already in the area, which will be reclassified as National Parks (they used to be Natural or Forest Reserves).

Thus, the new national parks created will be: Pumalín, Melimoyu and Patagonia. To this is added the expansion of the existing parks: Hornopirén, Corcovado and Isla Magdalena. And finally, the protected areas that will be reclassified as national parks are the Alacalufes Forest Reserve (which will also be expanded), the Cerro Castillo Forest Reserve, the Cochrane Lake Forest Reserve and the Jeinimeni Lake National Reserve.

And funding?

Of course, a mega project of conservation like this arises the doubt of how its administration and infrastructure will be financed. Especially in a country that is not characterized precisely by having a large budget for protected areas and where an approximate one dollar per hectare is invested in national parks (versus the USD$30 per hectare invested by Costa Rica or USD$ 7 by Peru).

"Fundo Pillán" in Parque Pumalín ©Sam Beebe

The financing plan for this network of parks presented to the Budget Division contemplates a 10-year action line with a state investment of $8,000 million, where the increase in spending would begin in the fourth year, considering an increase of $800 million per year. The first 3 years will be destined to the creation of the Management Plan, where CONAF will assume the costs with its current budget. The Tompkins foundations will be able to keep their administration as a limit until 2019.

Written by:  Ladera Sur