New Cochamó Valley nature sanctuary officially declared

E-mail Print

 Photo: Puelo PatagoniaPhoto: Puelo Patagonia

By Sofia Anich
It is now official. On Monday, January 29, the creation of the new Cochamó Valley Nature Sanctuary was published in Chile's Diario Oficial,  thereby protecting 11,400 hectares, one-third of the Cochamó River's watershed.
Surrounded by its gigantic granite walls, the new protected area stands out for the diversity of its fauna, which includes more than 50 species such as pudú, monito del monte, puma, and Andean condor. In addition, you can find there ancient alerce trees, riparian wetlands and 6 of the 12 forest types that exist in Chile. 
Located in the Los Lagos region at the northern edge of Chilean Patagonia, the importance of the Cochamó Valley lies not only in its spectacular landscape. Maisa Rojas, Chile's environment minister, commented after the annoucement that due to "its abrupt topography and the presence of well-preserved native forests, this area is a climate refuge that provides ecosystem services, generating benefits for people."
The sanctuary also reinforces protection of the area's water resources. Since 2009, the Cochamó River has been protected as a reserva de caudal (water flow reserve), a legal status under Chile's water laws that limits the use of the river's waters to protect it from mining or energy projects, for example. Now, the river basin obtains a new level of protection that protects not just the use of water, but the river in its entirety as an ecosystem. 
The sanctuary designation was achieved after years of joint efforts by the local community, civil society organizations, and public institutions. Of the 32,843 hectares that make up the entire valley, 11,432 hectares are now safeguarded, almost all of that corresponding to state lands, while the remaining two-thirds of lands outside of the sanctuary belong to private owners. 
The effort to nominate the area for nature sanctuary status was led by the Organización Valle Cochamo (OVC, "Cochamo Valley Organization" in English) with the help of conservaton group Puelo Patagonia, and received broad support from local actors such as the local arrieros (herders) group, indigenous communities, the tourism association, neighborhood councils, and the Municipality of Cochamó, among others. 
Andrés Diez, executive director of Puelo Patagonia, stressed that the sanctuary designation allows for strict conservation in areas of high ecological value yet at the same time this protection regime is compatible with the historical uses that have long taken place in the valley, such as the herding of livestock. 
Photo: Daniel PastenePhoto: Daniel Pastene
Diez adds that the creation of the new sanctuary will also permit other activities in the area as long as they do not harm the conservation objectives and other protection criteria set forth in nature sanctuary regulations. 
The Cochamó Valley Nature Sanctuary, which borders the northern sector of Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, is increasingly popular with tourists, hikers, climbers and others who enjoy its pristine wild landscapes, so the next stage of the sanctuary involves creating a management plan that will continue the ongoing work to harmonize growing tourism with nature conservation.
The new nature sanctuary will be managed by Organización Valle Cochamo (OVC) in coordination with the national property ministry, and will be under the supervision and custody of the environment ministry. Tatiana Sandoval, president of the OVC, said that they are already turning their focus toward "achieving the planning, management and collecting the necessary information to ensure effective and sustainable protection over time."

Subscribe Today!

Featured Listings in Directory