President Bachelet: “The State has a duty to value, preserve and promote Patagonia’s natural wealth”
During the ceremony held to sign decrees creating the National Park Network of Patagonia, the President noted that, “national parks will increase in surface area by 38.5% and will total 81.1% of all of the protected areas in Chile. That is the magnitude of the project that we are bringing into being today”.
President Michelle Bachelet traveled to Cochrane in the Aysén Region with Minister of National Assets Nivia Palma and Minister of the Environment Marcelo Mena to lead the ceremony to sign decrees to create the National Park Network of Patagonia.
“We have been brought here today by a dream borne of a simple and frank love of this land. It was that dream that allowed us to overcome incredulity and work together to create a government policy. Kris, I believe that I am right in saying that Douglas Tompkins would be happy to see that he was right and that his legacy is more alive today than ever. The government of Chile has a duty to value, preserve and promote Patagonia’s natural wealth, and it must do so in accordance with high international standards. In other words, the country as a whole has to undertake the commitment that used to fall to a few visionaries. It is the country as a whole that wins by cementing concrete routes towards sustainable development”, the President said as she began her remarks.
The project involves eight properties with a surface area totaling approximately 4,519,713 hectares. It includes protected land, government land that will be added to the project and properties that have been donated by private entities.
“We are continuing to make progress with these beautiful lands, forests and privileged ecosystems, which will total over 4 million hectares. Our national parks will thus increase in surface area by 38.5%, and they will total 81.1% of the total protected areas in Chile. That is the magnitude of the project that we are bringing into being today. Chile had to take this decisive step to protect and preserve our biodiversity, unique landscapes, the habitat associated with endangered species such as the native trees known as alerces, the huemules (Andean deer) and Andean foxes. The potential for tourism is clear. Seventy-eight percent of long-distance visitors tell us that their main reason for visiting Chile is nature. Over ten million people have come to our country to visit its protected areas over the past four years”, the President explained.
As she brought her remarks to a close, President Bachelet explained why this network of parks is so central to her administration’s view of Chile. “It is not only an unprecedented conservation effort. It is also an invitation to imagine ways of rationally using our land, of creating other economic activities, of using natural resources without degrading them. To put it differently, it is about imagining ways of generating sustainable development, which is the only cost-efficient form of development in the long-term”, she said.
She added, “we have made more progress than ever with land and marine conservation, with cleaning up our energy matrix, and with making the people part of a new way of understanding development. Let’s be very clear: we cannot go backwards”.