New book highlights research on conservation-based development in Patagonia

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Parque Nacional Quelat, Aysen, Chile. Parque Nacional Quelat, Aysen, Chile.

 
By Victoria Traxler
 
As the Patagonia region experiences growing pains at the hands of increasing tourism and development ventures, academic experts from Chile, Argentina and the United States collaborated in a recently published book on how Patagonia’s development is changing and why.
 
“Tourism and Conservation-based Development in the Periphery: Lessons from Patagonia for a Rapidly Changing World” contains some of the first peer-reviewed South American-based lessons on the complex interconnections between social and ecological environments as Patagonia continues on its path to sustainability. 
 
Co-editors Trace Gale, Andrea Ednie and Keith Bosak sought to highlight critical local research on efforts toward conservation-based development as Patagonia continues to be affected by the influences of tourism and growth. It is part of a series of books in Springer’s Natural and Social Sciences of Patagonia. 
 
“We really wanted to do this as local as possible because that's what's important to South American researchers, which is that research is expressing a local point of view,” Gale said. 
 
Gale works for Chile’s Ecosystems of Patagonia Research Center (CIEP) and with Cape Horn International Center, Ednie for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s College of Education and Professional Development, and Bosak for the University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation.
 
Contributors include experts from the Universidad Austral de Chile, Universidad de la Frontera, Universidad de Magallanes, Chilean National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), Torres del Paine Legacy Fund and Argentina’s National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), to name just a few. 
 
 
 
 
The book’s research focuses on three primary themes: the evolution of the “green economy” in Patagonia, contemporary conservation-based development and its challenges, and building resilience and sustainability. It also aims to address these themes from a social-ecological systems approach, looking at the complexities of the relationships between people and nature. 
 
“You can't just evaluate what's going on in terms of biology or in terms of the geology or, differences from an ecological standpoint without, at the same time considering change from a social standpoint,” Gale said. “And so it's this idea of getting into complexity and getting into these messy systems.”
 
Dr. Cecilia Gutierrez, from the Universidad Austral de Chile and author of a study focused on resilience factors in Patagonia nature-based tourism, said the book is “of great importance” not only for Patagonia but for all areas of the world where development is centered between the public and private conservation efforts and activities linked to tourism. 
 
“Until now, there has been no text that has brought together the most up-to-date research on the importance of, and social, cultural, economic, and environmental contributions, made by ecosystem conservation activities in Patagonia's national parks and public and private protected wilderness areas, and the activities associated with these areas through tourism, recreation, education and research,” Gutierrez said. 
 
Gale and Bosak said this type of research has been accomplished by local authors in the past, but historically has only been available in Spanish. Through months of meticulous translation and approval processes, the studies, originally approved in Spanish, were finalized in English. 
 
Researcher and contributor Gabriel Instroza Villanueva of Universidad Austral de Chile’s Patagonia campus wrote on the social representation of nature-based tourism, development conflict and the future of sustainable development in Chilean Patagonia. This research, he says, will allow others to understand the contradictions of Patagonia between how its resources are used and threats that come from poorly conceived tourism and conservation efforts. 
 
“These contradictions lead us to reflect on new development alternatives, from the periphery, from the south of the world, in these turbulent times of accelerated change,”  he said. 
 
 

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