Reserva Cerro Paine promotes reforestation plan with the support of civil and corporate volunteerism

  • The reserve prioritizes conservation of the area’s biology and cultural history spanning twenty-five years. Its mission, more than just sustainable tourism, is to inspire ambition in conservation, research, and environmental education.

More than six thousand lenga trees will be planted this year by the AMA Torres del Paine NGO in Reserva Cerro Paine, thanks to a tree nursery and a conservation campaign that hopes to impact civil society. The initiative constitutes the second chapter of a project to cultivate twenty thousand lengas for El Paine. It has mobilized local communities, including 700 schoolchildren from the Magallanes Region, to plant more than seventeen thousand lenga seedlings in Torres del Paine National Park.

The reforestation program calls for the participation of civil actors from schools, local communities, universities, and companies. It has the support of a team of park rangers that manage signage, trails (mainly the most visited trail, Base Torres, that registers up to 1,000 tourists daily in high season), entrance control, and closure of accesses.

 

“Control and territorial management can be considered the principle instruments of conservation. These instruments help prevent wildfires and permit effective information dispersion through data collection and environmental education to visitors and workers.” This year, there were twenty-five expert talks about flora and fauna, as well as cultural discussions on responsible coexistence with Pumas and compatibility with sustainable tourism in the region,” says Nelson Bahamonde, a biologist and the director of Research and Environmental Education at AMA Torres del Paine.

Bahamonde proudly states that the incipient efforts that began with the creation of AMA Torres del Paine in 2004 combine environmental and social lines of work, so that Reserva Cerro Paine can conserve its natural diversity for the next twenty-five years and more. Without the will and vision of the landowners, this would not have been possible. He points out, “The greatest of all of our achievements is that we converted the Estancia Cerro Paine into a private protected area and a natural and cultural reserve. It makes commitment to long-term conservation more tangible and safeguards the biodiversity of the area.”

 

The creation of the NGO is a milestone that changes the objective of managing territory, transcending the development of sustainable tourism corporations and prioritizing the compromise of biology and cultural conservation. It improves the reserve’s trails and the quality of eroded terrain through the campaigns “Your Best Footprint for Paine” and “Reforest by Sponsoring a Lenga,” which educate about the prevention of wildfires and the coexistence of flora and fauna, mainly with pumas. These are just a few examples of activities included in our master plan of conservation.

Reserva Cerro Paine seeks to promote the development of a conservationist culture, with actions directed towards school communities, universities, businesses, residents of Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, Porvenir, scientific groups, scouts, and others that contribute to the care and recuperation of the environment. In the same way, AMA Torres del Paine has prioritized the reforestation of lands affected by wildfire through projects including the current lenga nursery and a lenga seed orchard.

The areas co-management (landowners and communities) benefit private conservation in the national park. According to experts, private conservation does not seek to complicate the ownership of private land. Rather, it is an ally that prompts landowners to care for nature through long-term plans and mobilizes communities to passively and actively contribute to conservation and monitor what goes on in the reserve.

Our reserve is also developing a biological portfolio with a register of the area’s flora and fauna, which will allow us to detect points-of-interest of biodiversity. According to Bahamonde, a leader of science and education investigation in Reserva Cerro Paine, “This register will be of great value for measuring Torres del Paine’s ecological conditions and advances in conservation, considering that Reserva Cerro Paine is part of the park. It is important to note that borders are artificial references of territory, because nature is without barriers.”

AMA Torres del Paine’s Reserva Cerro Paine Conservation Team integrates biologists, park rangers, tree farmers, tourism professionals, and specialists in territory, among others, to arrange the beginning of an ambitious and necessary plan.

WHY LENGAS?

Nelson points out that the forests of the area are mostly lenga, ñirre and coihue. Since lengas do not regrow after a fire, the reforestation plan prioritizes their conservation. “We want ecological restoration through planting tree farms. We hope that the lengas do not only have rapid growth, but that they also develop ecologically, so that we can diminish the need for chemical fertilizers and hormones, which can intervene in the ecosystem. We want to replicate the environment’s natural functions and only help a little rather than over-manipulate natural resources, which is ultimately negative for ourselves.”

The Participatory Management Plan commits socially through making agreements with primary and secondary schools and universities, creating educational and volunteer spaces, and forming connections between the reserve’s conservation and tourism workers, including conservation issues that may come up within the companies for which they work. With the help of a local school reforestation campaign that mobilized 700 students, AMA Torres del Paine planted approximately sixty thousand plants for forest recovery in Torres del Paine. These new trees are the most recent achievement in concretizing the reforestation of over seventeen thousand trees in Torres del Paine National Park from 2014 to 2017.