Infographic: Rivers of Chile under threat Read more...
Chile’s threatened rivers
Read more... Photo: Baker River. Jimmy Langman/Patagon Journal
By Nathalie Joignant
Editors Note: The following is from Issue 12.
Rivers and wetlands are the veins that carry our lifeblood. Simply put, they allow our existence. In addition to water they provide countless environmental services to humans and other species, among them: food, biodiversity habitat, fibers, medicinal material, fodder for livestock, irrigation for food crops in adjacent lands, construction materials, spaces for recreation and spiritual development, and flood control. People have historically settled along their banks, ranging from small towns to big cities. But today, due to corporate greed and government irresponsibility, many rivers are drying up or under imminent threat.
Chile’s House of Deputies approves Water Code reform
Chile Sustentable - By a vote of 63 in favor, 32 against and 3 abstaining, the plenary of the House of Deputies approved new legislation to confirm water is a fundamental human right. The decision will modify the Water Code in force since 1981, prior to democratic participation in the country.
Reforming Chile’s Water Code
By Sara Larrain
Editors Note: The following is from Issue 12.
Chile is suffering degradation of fresh water sources, rivers, and underground aquifers, in addition to drought and desertification intensified by climate change. A significant part of these problems have been generated by bad public policy such as the Water Code, which dates back to 1981 and, without democratic checks, has prioritized the interests of the market over equitable access and protection of water sources.
Climate Change Series: Memories of ice
Read more... The author and partner, Brinannala Morgan walk across the meltwater pools on the surface of the Campo de Heilo Norte with the Torres and the Circo de los Altares in the background.
Issue 12 - Rivers of Chile
Our special section on threatened rivers
in this new edition
of Patagon Journal includes articles from leading river advocates in Chile and internationally, and it comes at an opportune time. In August, the Endesa energy company announced that it was renouncing its water rights for developing five hydroelectric projects in Chile, among them plans for the Futaleufu and Puelo rivers in Patagonia. In the magazine, we show how and why Chile could seize on this important shift in their energy industry to become a worldwide leader in sustainable energy, adventure travel and river conservation.
New regulations for visits to Torres del Paine
Pehoé campsite. Photo: TomaB
Beginning this month, for overnight stays in Torres del Paine National Park you must have prior reservations at campsites or lodges.
By Clara Ribera
Due to high demand for partaking in the popular trekking circuits of Torres del Paine National Park, Chile's national park service (Conaf) has announced that starting from October 15, overnight stays in the park will be regulated. The new measure aims to redistribute the growing quantity of visits throughout more months of the year, which will benefit both the park’s natural environment and the quality of the experience for the guests themselves.
"We do not intend to reduce the volume of visitors," explains Rodrigo Rodriguez, who is in charge of parks and protected areas for Conaf in the Última Esperanza province, Magallanes region. Considering the high concentration of guests during a short two-month period -- currently some 40 percent of visitors arrive during January and February, which is the high season during Patagonia's summer -- they want to extend the trekking season into March and April.
The regulation impacts anyone wanting to trek the popular and busy “W” and “Macizo Paine Grande” circuits. "We urge the traveler to plan and inform themselves before coming. Together, we can achieve a change in behavior,” says Ximena Castro, business manager of Fantástico Sur, one of the companies which has a concession for operating lodges inside the park.
Anyone planning an extended hike for more than a day on the trails must now reserve a spot at the various campsites and lodges in advance, before entering the park. Moreover, the visitor will only be allowed one night in each sector. Rodriguez adds that those visitors not yet up to speed with the new system can try to make a last minute booking when registering before entering the park at the welcome center at Cerro Paine, though they will be hit with an additional 20 percent surcharge for usage of the tablets available there. If all the slots are filled, "you can still do a full-day in the park or climb to the base of the Torres without a reservation," says Rodriguez.
Lodges and campsites in the circuit.
Trekking: Reserva Nacional Malalcahuello-Nalcas
By Tomás Moggia
It takes almost three hours of walking until I finally leave the dense, humid forest. Behind are tall and ancient araucarias, also known as monkey puzzle trees, and other species like lenga, coihue and oak. While I continue climbing up through the sunny and exposed hillside that marks the end of the Piedra Santa trail, a cold wind begins to blow, and the increasingly isolated and solitary araucarias begin to adopt strange, stunted forms, reminding one of the craftsman-like role that the wind can play at high altitudes.