Part 3: Playing green Monopoly in Patagonia

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 The Baker River in Chile's Aysen region. Photo: Linde WaidhoferThe Baker River in Chile's Aysen region. Photo: Linde Waidhofer
 
 
By Patricio Segura

PART THREE:  Conservación y democracia, ¿una posible combinación?

In the Aysen region of Chilean Patagonia, the author writes that efforts to protect and conserve land – which sometimes include the subdivision of properties into numerous lots for re-sale – are often done outside of the regional public planning process and with little participation from the people who actually live there. Previously, in other latitudes, it was determined that the Aysén region would be a great energy pantry, with transnational companies trying to impose a development model based on the construction of large dams. Today, conservation, which many of the region's residents mobilized for, also seems to respond to decisions made in another time and place.
 
Read the first part here: https://bit.ly/3hN1XOF
 
Read the second part here: https://bit.ly/35HhflL
 
 
Today, Balloon Latam, the B corporation mentioned in the second article of this series, also works in Aysén within the framework of the "portal communities" strategy. 
 
Portal communities, or gateway communities, is the name given to the territories inhabited in the areas of influence of "protected areas or areas of high natural value, which recognize having some kind of connection with it. The nature of this connection is voluntary and may be cultural, ancestral, geographic, economic or tourism-related.  This relationship between the community and the natural area, which produces mutual impacts that imply social, ecological, and economic responsibilities and benefits for both, should be developed in coordination with the respective wilderness area's administration," says Francisco Solís, director of the Patagonia Chile Project of the U.S.-based foundation The Pew Charitable Trusts.  
 
Because the national parks in Aysén cover a significant extension of the region, the gateway communities are in practically all the region’s inhabited areas.
 
The concept has been in use since at least 2018, and today involves 26 municipalities in Chilean Patagonia, two of the three regional governments, along with CONAF (the national forest and park service), the environment and national property ministries, as well as the support of some foreign and domestic foundations.
 
Pew is part of - and funds - the Patagonia Mar y Tierra (PMT) working group, a sort of alliance of conservation groups through which the foundation promotes environmental protection initiatives in Patagonia, primarily associated with areas adjacent to the Patagonia Parks Network.
 
The Patagonia y Mar alliance includes exclusively the Blue Whale Center, the Melimoyu Foundation, the Omora Foundation, the Terram Foundation, Puelo Patagonia, Round River Conservation Studies, WWF Chile, and the Aysen-based group Aumen.  Initially, Tompkins Conservation (now Rewilding Chile) also participated, but soon withdrew from the initiative, although for obvious reasons (it is the original driving force behind the Patagonia Parks Network, where PMT operates) it maintains some ties to their work. 
 
The criteria for including just these organizations, says Pew, was to work only with groups directly linked to conservation initiatives, and not others who encompass more broadly environmental protection, or are involved in activism in Patagonia. Still, some of their alliance members fit into the latter category too.
 
In addition, Pew is also amply financing a large, technical support team housed at the Universidad Austral of Valdivia, called Programa Austral Patagonia, which coordinates researchers and academics that support the strategies for the portal communities.
 
Sebastián Salinas, executive director of Balloon Latam, explains that as a company they are "in charge of territorial work" in the context of portal communities. Thus, they have developed 29 projects in Villa O'Higgins; 17 in Caleta Tortel; 29 in Cochrane; 38 between Villa Cerro Castillo and Puerto Ingeniero Ibáñez; 38 in Puerto Río Traquilo and Bahía Murta; and 37 in Chile Chico.  This initiative does not involve the transfer of funds but participation in processes to strengthen "green" entrepreneurship, as well as being moderators of conversation forums
 
They are also carrying out the "Get your rural permit" program, which benefits small and isolated communities in the country, among which so far several in the Aysén region have participated, such as Tortel, Cochrane, Ibáñez and Chile Chico.  In the latest period, Tortel increased by 69.26 % its income from circulation permits, while Cochrane increased by 31.41%.
 
The format is that via online, anyone in any part of the country can choose one of these communities (in 2022 there are already 19 included) to obtain his or her circulation permit.
 
In parallel, as mentioned in the second article of this series, Balloon Latam receives financing from Fundación La Tapera, linked to Paola Luksic and Oscar Lería, who have clear interests in the area around Caleta Tortel.  A conflict of interests that, apparently, does not seem to matter much to anyone at Pew, the conservation groups, or the company itself.
 
Parallel governance?
On January 26, the signing of the collaboration agreement of the "Portal Communities Strategy of the Protected Areas of Chilean Patagonia" took place in Punta Arenas, which was signed by the governors of the regions of Los Lagos and Magallanes, as well as the presidents of the Municipal Associations of the Province of Palena (Los Lagos), and the regions of Aysén and Magallanes.  The director of the Patagonia Chile project of The Pew Charitable Trusts, Francisco Solís, and the Universidad Austral de Chile also participated as they are the driving force behind this work.  
 
Another important milestone will be Wednesday, March 16, when the book "Communities and Protected Areas of Chilean Patagonia" will be launched.  A document that "covers the impressive geography of the Chilean regions of Los Lagos, Aysén and Magallanes, highlighting their ecological and landscape values, and reviewing in depth the current state of their land and coastal marine protected areas," says the invitation.
 
In Los Lagos and Magallanes the response to the idea of the portal communities has been favorable. However, the regional governor of Aysén, Andrea Macías, a member of Chile’s leftist Socialist party, was more cautious and has withdrawn from the initiative (she did not sign on January 26) because she says there has been up to now an important deficit in the real participation of the communities of Aysén and their organizations throughout the entire process. One of the priority issues for her administration is land use planning and a citizen participation policy, and she feels the Pew initiative is an external imposition that would redraw in green – in a process that has lacked citizen input – an important part of the region’s territory.
 
"We have stated that we are not going to do anything that does not go along the lines of working with our people and from the region.  It is important that the work comes from the region and not from outside.  The second reason for not signing is that a work plan was proposed, or a work plan was drawn up, for portal communities, which did not include all the institutions of the region, therefore we were not going to sign an agreement that established a line of work that did not include both the institutions and the communities themselves," explains the head of the Regional Planning and Development Division of the Aysén Regional Government, Francisco Lara.  However, Lara clarifies that they will be observers of the process because they are interested in the issue.
 
The Municipality of O'Higgins did not attend the signing either, but all the other municipalities in the region did participate.
 
 
Aysén region, Chile. Photo: Jimmy LangmanAysén region, Chile. Photo: Jimmy Langman
 
 
The agreement signed in Punta Arenas between private foundations, municipalities and public agencies seeks to "promote actions and mechanisms to facilitate inter-municipal cooperation processes;" "lead the development of studies and programs on the different issues that support municipal work, such as health, education, environmental protection, sports, productive development, quality of municipal services, culture, heritage and tourism, or other purposes that are specific to them;" "promote coordination and partnership networks with provincial, regional, national and international public agencies whose purpose is to develop issues and challenges related to the development of municipal issues and challenges;" "strengthen the performance of municipal staff through technology transfers, training and improvement courses;" "promote coordination and partnership networks with provincial, regional, national and international public agencies whose purpose is to develop issues and challenges related to the development of municipal issues and challenges related to the development of municipal services, such as health, education, environmental protection, sports, productive development, quality of municipal services, culture, heritage and tourism, or other purposes that are specific to them; "to strengthen the performance of municipal personnel through technological transfers, training and improvement courses;" "to promote coordination and association networks with provincial, regional, national and international public bodies whose purpose is the development of issues and challenges of community interest;" "to manage the leveraging of external resources;" among other objectives.
 
The municipal administrator of O'Higgins, Manuel Iduarte, says conservation efforts –both public and private– are viewed with caution in the town.  The explosive intervention in the area by national and foreign foundations, B companies that offer community support and other private interests that seek control of the land, is an offensive that is causing suspicion. "It is quite obvious what they want to do, shut out for just a few," he said.  And he alludes to a certain pressure, a type which takes advantage of the ever-present deficiencies of the communities: "They offer us the Get Your Rural Permit program, but they condition it on the signing of the (portal community strategy) agreement".
 
Iduarte recognizes the importance of conservation, but points out that it should be with the community, not without it.  For this reason, he demands "more information. There should be no rush, and no progress will be made if the community does not agree.”
 
In a different position is the mayor of Río Ibáñez, Marcelo Santana Vargas (UDI), who at the same time presides over the Regional Association of Municipalities (Aremu).  The mayor recalls that in 2018 "the municipalities were not considered in the design of the Austral Patagonia Program," however after expressing this shortcoming, they were involved in the process, which today he views in a positive light.   He explains that first they will work on a pilot project with Tortel (whose mayor is the former independent PPD Abel Becerra Vidal), Río Ibáñez and Cisnes.  " This will be the first stage.  Because that is where there is a more advanced degree of maturity with respect to the trident of wilderness/conservation, tourism within the protected natural area and local communities a bit more empowered with their protected wilderness areas."
 
Here, Francisco Solís, who previously worked for years at The Nature Conservancy, an organization that raises money from the private sector to create private parks and land trusts, points out that it is always possible to do things better.  But he says that the work he has done is a contribution to the link between communities and their protected natural areas.  And he asks: "What have we done to bring protected areas closer to the reality of local governments, what have we done to bring resources and public policy related to local development and protected areas? That is the historic aspect of this agreement."  And another plus, he points out, is that in this process the local community has always been considered as a link in the conservation process, "and I think this has been a contribution," because until now there would have been a polar vision between "extreme development vs. total preservation and the elimination of all traditional uses.  That is the value."
 
During the signing in Punta Arenas, it was reported that the next step was to form a supra-regional portal community governance roundtable, "composed of the municipalities and regional governments of the three regions involved, to begin the gradual implementation of the strategy, with actions ranging from the formulation of investment projects to the recognition of protected areas in the main planning instruments such as the Regional Development Strategy (ERD), Community Development Plans (PLADECO) and Tourism Development Plans (PLADETUR)."
 
Undoubtedly, processes that compete with that of the institutions themselves, represented by local and regional governments and even civil society.
 
A challenge which has three years to be implemented, since Pew's Patagonia Program –and its financing– has an expiration date: 2025.
 
For César Guala, director of the Austral Patagonia Program, the portal communities initiative is fundamental for involving the community in the protection of national parks.   "A relevant element is how to ensure that the parks created cease to be paper parks and become spaces that guarantee the objectives of their conservation purpose.  And that these parks are also used by the people who have always lived in the territory," he points out.
 
Both Solis and Guala agree that they must confront the mistrust that may be generated by their initiative in the region.  "It is important that people feel that what is happening there is not that an enlightened person came to tell them what to do.  And to assume that the participation process is not a one-minute process, it must be something recurrent, that it does not end," therefore if there are actors or organizations that lack information, or perceive divergent signals, they must be listened to in some way, adds Guala.
 
Something similar is expressed by Sebastián Steinmeyer, president of Aumen's board of directors.  "There is a critical view that the concept of portal community can be improved, understanding that it does not represent or may not be represented by all the people who ought to be there." For this reason, "Aumen is interested in the communities surrounding the conservation territories being in charge of their conservation."  An example of this, he points out, is his own organization’s two decade of work, together with the community of Tortel, in the conservation of Laguna Caiquenes.  An example of this, he said, is that the park ranger of this protected national property (BNP) is originally from Caleta Tortel.
 
The possible lack of involvement of the communities and their organizations in the current portal communities strategy may not become reality. This was stated during the most recent meeting of the expanded board of directors of the three Zones of Tourist Interest (ZOIT) of Aysén, held on Tuesday, February 2: Aysén Patagonia-Queulat; Chelenko Territory; and Los Glaciares Province. At this meeting, for example, the center-right mayor of Cisnes, Francisco Roncagliolo, whose municipality belongs to the ZOIT Aysén Patagonia-Queulat, expressed his agreement with the possibility of integrating into the portal communities strategy, thanking "all the organizations that considered Cisnes... it is a long time work that we have already been carrying out."
 
However, the response from grassroots organizations in these communities was clearly critical.
 
Andrea Rosas, president of the ZOIT Glacier Province and a resident of Villa O'Higgins, questioned the fact that the work has been carried out outside of these planning instruments, which in the case of Aysén particularly combine tourism and conservation.  "The strategy (of portal communities) is not clear and this has a relevant impact for us, considering that the development of the ZOIT is a very important work with the social and territorial bases of the territory.   These instances have not been consulted or involved in this process," she said.  She added that "this has only been worked with the municipalities, but it turns out that the bases of civil society are represented to a greater or lesser extent by the ZOITs.  Social participation here was nil, and I am surprised that something as important as the protected natural areas and the planning strategies around them have not been discussed with us."
 
 
Representatives of all of the ZOITs in Aysén. Photo: Patricio SeguraRepresentatives of all of the ZOITs in Aysén. Photo: Patricio Segura
 
 
Lorena Molina, a councilwoman in O'Higgins, said of the agreement signed in Punta Arenas was “a very rushed matter for the municipalities to sign so quickly.  I am grateful that the governor did not sign and neither did our mayor." She complains that "portal communities are associated with several foundations and organizations here, such as Pew, Round River. We did not sign because in all the years that Round River has been working in our community, they have never able to give us a report of the 5 years that they have been working in the Pascua River." In her opinion "we have to be careful as a region in everything that is coming in protected areas and protected national assets.  We have to protect our territory, and not hand it over to portal communities and foundations that come from the outside because we are capable – and have been for years – of defending our territory."
 
A councilwoman from Cisnes, Alemendra Silva, points out that although the mayor of their community has signed on, the town’s council were not consulted.  "I do not know the details because it was not discussed in the council,” she said. “I practically found out through the press that the municipality of Cisnes had agreed to this.  There the municipality of Cisnes has to improve as well.  I requested in a council meeting that this should be explained to us, to understand it better, but it has not yet been done,” she said.
 
Miriam Chible, vice-president of the Chelenko Corporation, states that representatives from the portal communities program "tried to contact us individually, but in reality there is a governance in the territory that are the ZOIT.  We have been working for so many years, with state money invested and free time from us as businessmen, and the tremendous plan that we have put together in relation to sustainable tourism, we feel like all of our work has now been passed over. We are somewhat angry over this situation; we hope that this situation will be corrected."
 
Meanwhile, the regional director of the national tourism office in Aysen, Patricio Bastías, acknowledges that they have also not participated in the strategic definitions, despite their obvious relevance to the issue, although "they have talked to us, they have formally interviewed us.”
 
These complaints are not superficial. 
 
Because it is one thing for local people and companies to participate in a process of business accompaniment and quite another for their organizations, which are the entities that contribute to give cohesion to the territory, to be involved in a binding way in the decisions that are adopted, which according to the leaders has not happened.  For better or worse, they are the ones who actually live in the region, as opposed to the managers, professionals and researchers (and businessmen who buy large tracts of land) of the entities that promote these initiatives.
 
For this reason, the decision of the public-private board of the three ZOITs of Aysén was to organize a meeting with actors associated with the portal communities program to examine its implications for their tourism zones.  This has not yet occurred.
 
The dilemmas
This puzzle linked to conservation, where the legitimate interest of protecting this exceptional territory is combined with the profitability of investments on the land, for some actors goes over the regional planning.  The one that is built among the inhabitants of the territories themselves, who have participated in multiple processes shaping their dreams and visions.  An example of this is that the link has been made through specific actors, in a kind of "pirquineo," without going through the macro discussion of the public-private roundtables of the ZOITs, for example.  This atomization of the discussion recalls the way of working of other actors who, with divergent motivations, intervened in the territory through the figure of direct support and competitive funds. 
 
Today, Round River is in charge of conducting, also with resources from Pew, the communication strategy of the portal communities, according to the terms of reference whose deadline for submission of proposals ended on March 14. 
 
All these initiatives, it is pointed out, seek to contribute to the protection of biodiversity in Patagonia and its communities, in order to safeguard the natural and cultural heritage of the territory.  But, what has yet to be built is a mechanism that integrates from the beginning those who actually live in the territory. 
 
And this is an essential question.
 
"Because having completely democratic spaces does not ensure socio-environmental responsibility, since it is possible to have a highly participatory system and, among all, decide to destroy ecosystems and their species.  And, on the contrary, the protection of nature from an authoritarian point of view and without participation can lead to eco-fascism," I wrote a few years ago in an article published by Ciper
 
Because democracy and conservation are principles to which we aspire in Aysén, but they do not necessarily go hand in hand. That is the big debate that must now be had in my region. 
 
These are extreme examples, of course, but in light of the processes currently in place in Patagonia, these are legitimate and necessary questions to address in a place where the inhabitants of a territory like Aysén (and Patagonia) are not only pieces of a virtual green Monopoly that is played in other latitudes, with multiple interests and dissimilar intentions: academic, research, real conservation and also "profitable," real estate business, consulting for profit and non-profit, extractivism, take your pick). It is a board that is defining its own future, separate from the desires and dreams of the community, which is the one that, at the end of the day, will directly experience the successes and mistakes of those who do not live, day to day, the reality of the people who live in this southern land.
 
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Fiscal conservation outside of SNASPE
 
Among the Pew Foundation's Mar y Tierra working group participating organizations is the Aumen Foundation, which since 2014 has managed for free a concession for 30 years of the protected national property (BNP) Laguna Caiquenes, a 8,500-hectare reserve near Caleta Tortel. 
 
Laguna Caiquenes and Ventisquero Montt (the BNP proposed by Paola Luksic) are located in the area around Tortel. In Aysén, there are also other protected national properties, which is self-designated by the Ministry of National Property of government-owned land for conservation purposes without being formally part of the National System of Protected Areas administered by Chile’s park service: Santa Lucía in Lake O'Higgins (9,300 hectares); Isla Simpson and Huemules in Nalcayec (22,900 hectares); Palena Costa de Aysén (22,900 hectares); Bahía Mala (7,300 hectares); Laguna Vera (3,200 hectares); Cerro Rosado (1,800 hectares); Río Azul (12,000 hectares); San Lorenzo (19,400 hectares). 
 
In addition to these, there are two that are already concessioned free of charge: Lake Copa in Cisnes, given since 2008 and for 20 years to the Wilderness Foundation (11,500 hectares); Mosco River Basin in O'Higgins, granted to the local municipality since 2015 and for 10 years (10,300 hectares).
 
In total, there are 12 conservations areas on government lands called BNPs.
 
In the case of Aumen, in addition to the vast research, education and conservation work it has developed, has received support from Mininco (CMPC) for the protection of the huemul, thanks to the efforts of the biologist Rodrigo López who, besides being a partner of Aumen and administrator of the BNP Laguna Caiquenes, has been an advisor to this forestry company for its protection programs for this species in both in Aysén and in Bío Bío.  Aumen has also actively participated "in the Biodiversity Conservation and Heritage Restoration Advisory Council" of Arauco. 
 
Two corporations that have been responsible, as has been documented, for the destruction of an important part of the biodiversity of southern Chile.
 
In this regard, Sebastián Steinmeyer explains that since they took over in 2019 "we have been in a policy of reviewing the origin of their finances, we have not accepted money from just anyone,” he asserts. “We have always had a super critical spirit to us and the new board will continue to be critical now and in the future".
 
Regarding Mininco's support, he says that "there are indeed resources and financing, but for very specific initiatives that have to do with very concrete aspects.”
 
Today there are two other fiscal lands that are being promoted as BNP and which could be granted free or onerously in the future.  The 100,000 hectares of Torres del Avellano near Villa Cerro Castillo, which the municipality of Río Ibáñez has requested to be declared under such figure with the idea of being its future administrators.  And in the area of the Pascua river basin (some 76,000 hectares), where one of the promoters is the Round River Foundation, which has recently received funding from Pew for this purpose. 
 
During this period, the foundation has held many meetings with the communities of Tortel and Villa O'Higgins to win local support for its initiative. 
 
It was in this context that in 2020 Patagonia Mar y Tierra, together with the Ministry of National Property, promoted a series of talks on protected national lands, addressing the "challenges and opportunities for conservation, research and sustainable tourism," with the "vision of civil society." This was complemented with work meetings with the communities and outreach actions, such as those developed by Balloon Latam.
 
One of the last activities was on November 4, when Round River presented the process of "creation of the Pascua River protected national asset (BNP).”
 
The activity, which was attended by various organizations and neighbors of Villa O'Higgins, caused the local group at Río Pascua, through its president Yaline Riveros Sáez, to send a letter to the municipality stating that, since the process was not promoted by "local institutions or organizations, we believe that the information provided by Round River Chile is insufficient, and lacks the minimum acceptable to make a decision regarding the relevance to support this initiative.”
 
In the letter, they questioned that the "Technical File for the creation of the Pascua River Protected National Asset" presented in March 2021 to the Ministry of National Property by Round River together with the municipalities of O'Higgins and Tortel "refers to a previous work of this initiative, that it would be necessary to clarify and make transparent why the information associated with this conservation project had not been shared with the community, and the information is not publicly accessible.”
 
 
Pascua River. Photo: Patricio SeguraPascua River. Photo: Patricio Segura
 
 
They also claimed that "it is necessary for the local office of the Ministry of National Property to be present in the community, in order to clarify where this prioritization and urgency to process a protected national asset of more than 76,000 hectares comes from.  We do not understand the rush to decree under a legal figure of conservation a sector that given its inaccessibility, has minimal anthropic effect and therefore it is neither urgent nor necessary at this time a legal affectation as requested by the organization Round River Chile, so it is necessary to evaluate its relevance.”
 
Therefore, they demanded, the portfolio "in its role as administrator of public lands, initiate a participatory and planning process for the management of public lands, both in Tortel and in O'Higgins.”
 
Their concern is clear: "We believe that this project, rather than generating a conservation area, opens up the possibility of economic exploitation of the territory near the Pascua River, which would have a greater anthropic effect than it currently receives, not to mention that this area is not considered by the community as a priority for tourism development in the area, which indicates that the diagnostic survey carried out by Round River has not involved community participation and basically responds to their interests.”
 
Iduarte confirms that, at present, this possible declaration does not have the support of the municipality of O'Higgins.
 
On this issue, the executive director of Round River in Chile Fernando Iglesias explains that although in March 2021 they submitted the technical file to the Ministry of National Property, they are just beginning the formal community consultation process, which is also part of the application.
 
"We feel we are heirs to the process that was the protection of the Pascua River" in the face of HidroAysén's intentions to build three dams in that watershed and where the community of O'Higgins was part.  The objective, to continue what yesterday was a citizen mobilization, "now with the idea that the Pascua River should be protected, because there is a historic opportunity." And he estimates that this task, being one of the few practically untouched watershed in Chile (and the planet), with an abundant population of huemul deer and endemic biodiversity, is still necessary, considering that 230 kilometers to the southeast the Néstor Kirchner Jorge Cepernic hydroelectric complex is being built today, on the Santa Cruz River in Argentine Patagonia.  In other words, the Pascua River watershed is still at risk.
 
Iglesias acknowledges that perhaps they took it for granted that local organizations would agree, given their history of socio-environmental struggle, but reality said something different. "This is part of learning, we are a team that is willing to learn every day, in the work we are taking up," he said.
 
In both El Avellano and Río Pascua, the promoters of these national protected areas agree on a governance that does not replicate what is happening today with concessions in national parks, as in the case of Explora in Patagonia National Park.  After the declaration with a clear conservation objective, they propose that the communities themselves be their concessionaires/administrators, in alliance with the respective municipality (in Pascua with Tortel and O'Higgins), making the main decisions. 
 
 
 
"Since 2016, we have been supporting hand in hand the management process of the Mosco River BNP.  We donated camera traps, generated methodologies and trained the team of park rangers to monitor the biodiversity of the protected national asset, and that has inspired us to think that in the future the municipalities and the community can watch over the Pascua," explains Iglesias.
 
As a corollary, and without including other BNPs that are being studied at the request of specific tourist operators, a document of Tompkins Conservation/Rewilding Chile entitled "La gran mirada (The great overview)" shows the conservation objectives of that foundation.  There are the possible future new parks at Futaleufú, Palena, Lago Las Torres (between Coyhaique and Lago Verde), San Lorenzo (south of Cochrane) and Villa O'Higgins (which would come from the current BNPs at Río Mosco and Río Azul).  In addition, the expansion of the existing Pumalín Douglas Tompkins, Corcovado, Cerro Castillo and Patagonia parks.  This, without considering the creation of a park and several marine protected areas in the northern coast of the region.
 
These ideas would be in line with the law that would create the Biodiversity and Protected Areas System (SBAP), still under discussion in Chile’s Congress, which may recategorize the BNPs into national parks or another type of protected area.
 
Patagonia Mar y Tierra has even gone beyond land-based protected areas. "At the beginning of the program there were no Native Peoples' Marine Coastal Spaces (ECMPO) and we got involved there to provide technical support, so that they could be presented and not rejected, publishing a book so that the communities could make their own presentations," explains Francisco Solís, referring to a relevant instrument for safeguarding ancestral marine areas that was established by the Lafkenche Law. In its institutional portal, the Southern Patagonia Program has a "manual for the application of Marine Coastal Spaces of Native Peoples".
 
Hans Silva, geographer and former councilman of O'Higgins, says that he shares the idea of enhancing the value of protected natural areas for local development.  However, he also has some reservations.
 
In terms of governance, he agrees with the ZOIT leaders.  "A proposal is announced for a development strategy for towns, portal communities, but it has the paradox that it was made without the communities. Here, a group of outside NGOs present a model of governance of the territory in which they are protagonists, but they ignore the work of years of the communities that inhabit the territory.  It would be a good idea for these external actors to act as facilitators and not as decision-makers, which is what we are seeing in their proposals."
 
In relation to territorial planning, he considers that this is a way of intervening in the Regional Development Strategy and the PLADECOs.   "It seeks the creation and expansion of new protected areas, with a sense of urgency that escapes any planning, basic standards of citizen participation and environmental representativeness analyses.  Basically, these are fiscal lands, and part of them may have the need for environmental conservation, but another part of the territory could have a vocation for multiple uses that are also sustainable and contribute to local development," he explains.   In his opinion, making hasty decisions will only lead to future conflicts, which is why it is necessary to have a real conversation with the communities, resolve land use conflicts, analyze possible scenarios, and then think about new protected areas.
 And with respect to the protected wild areas, he agrees on the need to insert them in a better way in local development: with binding participation, strengthening the consultative councils (with more attributions), management plans and public use plans, for which the SBAP Law is important.
 
 "When the NGOs and activists have already done their work and we know their proposal, I think that the State, through the new authorities, should order this process of demand for large territories and make informed decisions, without rushing, considering the context of a new government and the drafting of a new Constitution," he concludes.
 
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The author, Patricio Segura, is a Chilean journalist that lives near Puerto Guadal, in the Lake General Carrera watershed of the Aysen region. He is the current treasurer of Corporación Privada para el Desarrollo de Aysén and was part of the communications team of the Patagonia without Dams campaign. 
 

 

 
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