Chile and Argentina agreed to turn 4.7 million hectares of land in northern Patagonia into a biosphere reserve, safeguarding some of the region's most magnificent wildlife.
The Andean-North Patagonian Biosphere Reserve is the fruit of conservation efforts in both countries. Nahuel Huapi park ranger Juan Salguero said he foresees "a shared policy of endangered species protection and hunting and fishing, as well as treaties on pest protection and forest fires."
The vast forestland may also be sanctified a "world nature reserve" by the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) in March 2007. The World Network of Biosphere Reserves already includes eight sites in Chile, out of 482 worldwide. Designated reserve sites receive aid in conservation, development, research, monitoring and education.
Among the signatories last week were officials from Chile's Region X, Argentina's Chubut and Rio Negro regions, Argentina's National Parks Administration, and its National Agricultural Technology Agency. Chile and Argentina will share maps and guides, but each will maintain its own administrative office.
} The original idea for the reserve came from Argentina, which already had a protected ecological corridor in Northern Patagonia, said Ricardo Cabral, head of the Frontier Integration Committee of the Lakes Region, who worked closely on the initiative.
Protecting the land may in turn support tourism in both Chile and Argentina. "We saw that supporting tourism on both sides is tied to the continuity of one type of vegetation," Cabral said, "and that depends on strict ecosystem conservation."
"For the first time ecological sustainability and social sustainability are coming together," Cabral said.
By Renata Stepanov The Santiago Times - News about Chile
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