Chile and Czech Republic work to restore Torres del Paine Park
Four years after a negligent Czech citizen, Jiri Smitak, accidentally started a huge fire in the world famous Torres Del Paine national park in far southern Chile, part of the destroyed area is being replanted in native forest trees.
The accidental fire set by Smitak on February 17, 2005 destroyed about 5 percent of the park’s total area and cost Chile’s government 1.4 million US dollars to bring under control.
The fire burned the topsoil and grass on some 12,000 hectares of parkland and also destroyed about 2,250 hectares of native forest. The flames raged for 10 days as 800 fire-fighters battled to bring them under control.
After the 2005 fire, the Czech Republic media launched a nation-wide campaign seeking donations to help restore the destroyed part of Chile’s park.
The reforestation is a joint effort between Chile and the Czech Republic, which assumed responsibility for Smitak’s negligence and donated one million USD to help the reforestation effort.
This week Chilean authorities announced that 50 hectares have been replanted with more than 120,000 young lenga trees. The reforestation effort is expected to be completed in 2010.
By Steve Anderson - Santiago Times