Chile's Interior Ministry has launched three investigative missions into previously unexplored areas in southern Chile. The areas ÃÂ¢€ known to be rich in flora and fauna ÃÂ¢€ will be assessed for suitability for tourism and conservation activities.
"Carrying out these studies will allow us to know the characteristics of the area's vegetation, wildlife, geology, archeology and cultural value," said Interior Minister Romy Schmidt. Academics, public bodies and conservation organizations will join in the effort to explore 1.5 million hectares of Chilean wilderness. The first three studies will be in the southern Regions XI and XII. San Isidro, south of Punta Arenas holds 10,000 hectares of land inhabited only by the endangered huemel deer. It is also thought to contain archeological remains from indigenous inhabitants. Lago Christie, on the Argentine border near Villa O'Higgins in Region XI, sparked interest due to the endangered species, such as condors and puma, which inhabit the area; further north near Puerto Cisnes, private companies are interested in Lago Copa for its fly fishing potential. The lake is only accessible by boat along the Picaflor River or by helicopter. Chile's government is considering awarding private companies 50-year contracts to maintain and develop the area. A key part of the contract will be the environmental conservation of the area. Mariano Rivera, head of the Interior Ministry's Exploratory Journeys program, announced that preliminary expeditions of three to 12 days will start shortly. The Santiago Times