Community Beautification in Chilean Patagonia

Tompkins Conservation Chile, together with the community of El Amarillo, in the region of Los Lagos, implemented a restoration plan for the gateway village to Pumalín Douglas Tompkins Park. A new e-book tells the story.

November 12, 2020. Improving the quality of life, generating local pride and stimulating small-scale tourism were the objectives of the beautification project promoted by Tompkins Conservation Chile together with the community of El Amarillo, a town located in the southern access point of the Pumalín Douglas Tompkins National Park, 25 kilometers from Chaitén.

With hopes to inspire other communities to carry out similar projects, Tompkins Conservation Chile launched a digital book that compiles the history of this collaborative program, which created a facelift for El Amarillo through the restoration of facades and fences, extensive landscaping, signage by local artisans, and the construction of attractive architectural details like “chirimbolos” (decorative moldings).

“Douglas Tompkins started this book before his death, so it has a very special meaning for us,“ says Carolina Morgado, executive director of Tompkins Conservation Chile. “He had a special affection for this project and he hoped that this restoration, in addition to generating local pride, would promote taking care of nature, since gateway communities play a fundamental role as guardians of the national parks.”

Called The Center of the World due to its strategic location on the Carretera Austral, El Amarillo overlooks the beautiful landscapes of the Michimahuida Volcano, Cerro Tabique and Amarillo River. The revitalization program began in 2007. After Chaitén volcano’s surprise eruption in 2008, the project took on the urgency of reconstruction. Photographs help tell the story, showing before and after the restoration process, incorporating the testimony of locals who took part of the initiative through the support of the Tres Aldeas Neighborhood Board (El Amarillo-Michinmahuida and Puerto Cárdenas). 

According to Pedro Asencio, who participated in the restoration, “This project served to educate our own community. It’s not like before, when people dumped trash everywhere. The atmosphere of the village also changed. People now look at the inhabitants here differently. Outsiders come to learn, to watch, and to emulate. It’s an example. It is another world which changed people’s mentality.”

The book also includes texts written by Douglas Tompkins: “Today the town is so beautiful that tourists stop and stay, instead of rushing through. Prosperity comes with order and beauty, good maintenance, and a friendly, cheerful face in the community. Together with its neighboring Parque Pumalín, this is an ambitious combination, a winning bet for a better future.”

 

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