The new Kawésqar National Park includes over 7 million acres of protected terrestrial land, while protecting almost 6.5 million acres of surrounding marine areas under the National Reserve category. With this milestone, the Protocol of Agreement signed between Tompkins Conservation and the State of Chile for the creation of the Network of National Parks of the Chilean Patagonia.
Made up of over 7 million acres of virgin ecosystems, the new Kawésqar National Park is the second largest national park in the country, after Bernardo O’Higgins National Park (over 8.6 million acres). Thanks to the Protocol of Agreement signed between the State of Chile and Tompkins Conservation in March 2017 and the acceptance of a new decree, Kawésqar National Park, located in the Magallanes region, has become reality. The March decree led to the creation of five new National Parks (Melimoyu, Patagonia, Kawésqar, Cerro Castillo and Pumalín Douglas Tompkins) and the extension of three others (Hornopirén, Corcovado and Isla Magdalena).
Carolina Morgado, executive director of Tompkins Conservation Chile, said: “This is the last decree that was missing from the Protocol of Agreement signed during the administration of President Michelle Bachelet. With this milestone, the Network of Parks is created, which is the starting point of the Patagonian Parks Route, a scenic route encompassing 17 National Parks and more than 60 surrounding communities. The route spans over 1,700 miles, between Puerto Montt and Cabo de Hornos, where tourism as a consequence of conservation becomes an alternative for local economic development.”
Kristine Tompkins, President of Tompkins Conservation and UN Environment Patron of Protected Areas, said: “Chile is a global example of conservation, given that more than 20% of its territory is protected, while marine protected areas reach more than 40% of the Exclusive Economic Zone. This has been possible thanks to the work of different actors of the public and private sector, who have seen in conservation not only an effective tool to preserve ecosystems and counteract climate change, but also as an engine of local economies.” The environmental leader added: “Personally I would like to congratulate the different governments of Chile that have worked hard for the creation of five new National Parks and the extension of three others. The Tompkins Conservation team has worked hand in hand with the different administrations to make these parks a reality, so I would also like to highlight their effort and commitment.”
The new Kawésqar National Park incorporates the former Alacalufes Forest Reserve, new fiscal land and the donation from Tompkins Conservation. In addition, the approximately 6.5 million acres of marine areas are protected under the category of National Reserve. Its landscapes are a mosaic composed of mountain ranges, forests, glaciers, fjords, lakes, wetlands and valleys that form virgin ecosystems of unparalleled beauty and habitat of a great diversity of species. The Magallanes Rainforest dominates the landscape with species such as Coigue de Magallanes, Ciprés de las Guaitecas and Canelo. In terms of fauna, Huemul, Puma, Gato Montés, Culpeo Fox and Chilla stand out, as well as several bird species.