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Chile’s CONAF and IUCN to start a historic process for the country’s Protected Areas

Posted Thursday 22 April 2021
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Celebrating International Earth Day, Chile’s National Forestry and Parks Agency CONAF and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – are starting a historic process towards a new era in managing the country’s National System of Protected Areas (SNASPE).

 

For the first time in the southern cone of South America, successful nature conservation will be recognized using an international standard. IUCN and CONAF have agreed to start a formal and gradual ‘Green List’ certification. The IUCN’s Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas Standard promotes professionalism in managing protected areas while using transparent criteria and international standards for governance and equity, design and planning, and effective management to achieve successful conservation results.

The IUCN Green List seeks to improve the management of protected areas to achieve effective results in nature conservation, with tangible benefits for people. This tool enhances social, economic, and cultural development, articulated within IUCN’s mission: A world that values and conserves nature.

The certification aims to aid national governments and other actors involved in conservation, to meet global targets for nature conservation, including the new Global Biodiversity Framework for 2021-2030.

This agreement also supports the fulfillment of Chilean President Sebastián Piñera’s program on “Great Bicentennial Parks”, which seeks to raise Chile’s national park governance and management to an international standard.

The agreement reached includes a pioneer process with two of Chile’s protected areas, administered by the National Forestry Corporation, CONAF. The world-renowned Chilean system of protected areas currently has 106 units, distributed in 42 National Parks, 46 National Reserves, and 18 Natural Monuments. Iconic and world-renowned parks in this system include Torres del Paine National Park and Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park, and the recently created Patagonia National Parks Network (a recognized joint initiative of Chile and a private donation), to name a few.

This pact reinforces Chile’s leadership in conservation, and it is recognized ability and willingness to create new protected areas. For example, from 2017 to date, six national parks have been created, adding almost 3.8 million hectares (practically the size of Switzerland) to the National System of Protected Areas (SNASPE). More than 21% of the country’s land, and more than 40% of the sea, are under nature conservation governance models according to IUCN categories and international norms. Chile is making considerable progress in meeting the current global goals.

The importance of the IUCN Green List application in Chile lies not only in the large percentage of protected territory in the country, but also in its unique values: huge areas with few people living there, such as the Chilean Patagonia, which are reservoirs of great biodiversity, unique and resilient ecosystems, and rich cultural heritage, and climate refugia. Science and local and traditional knowledge systems can contribute to the possible scenarios and solutions that the world will face due to climate change – and the IUCN Green List can help evaluate and share good practice in Chile with the global community.

For more than 50 years, CONAF has led in managing State Protected Areas Systems, which recently have put on its technical/strategic agenda milestones that open a new era of institutional maturity. These milestones include the organization of the first Latin American Women Park Rangers Congress, to be held in September 2021; a systematic effort to train its staff, the application of open standards in the planning of protected areas; its active role in implementing an innovative outreach strategy for local and indigenous communities in protected areas; and its recent involvement in the evaluation processes of the effectiveness of these territories against international standards.

The implementation of the Green List in Chile will have the technical and financial support of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Austral Patagonia Program of the Universidad Austral de Chile, and IUCN’s Green List programmes in South America and at global level. These entities have been working collaboratively with CONAF for years to improve protected areas in the Chilean Patagonia.

This announcement on International Earth Day marks a milestone in Chile’s conservation history and an essential step towards the sustainability of the region’s system of protected areas.

 

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