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Victory for Conservation! Cochamó Valley Declared a Nature Sanctuary

Unique Topography and Pristine Native Forests

The rolling green hills and majestic granite walls of the Cochamó Valley in Chile can now officially breathe a sigh of relief. After years of tireless efforts by the local community and conservation groups, the Chilean government has declared the valley a Nature Sanctuary!

This incredible news, published in Chile's Diario Oficial on January 29th, 2024, protects a whopping 11,400 hectares of land, safeguarding a third of the Cochamó River's watershed.

The Cochamó Valley boasts a wealth of natural treasures. Towering ancient alerce trees share the landscape with diverse fauna like pudú (small deer), monito del monte (forest monkeys), pumas, and even the majestic Andean condor. The area is also a haven for a remarkable variety of plant life, with an impressive six out of Chile's twelve forest types flourishing here.

But the significance of this new sanctuary goes beyond its breathtaking beauty. Chile's Environment Minister, Maisa Rojas, highlighted the valley's role as a "climate refuge" due to its unique topography and pristine native forests. This ecosystem plays a vital role in regulating the climate and providing essential services that benefit people in the region.

The Cochamó River, a vital source of water, also receives increased protection. The sanctuary designation complements the existing "reserva de caudal" status, which restricts water use for activities like mining and energy projects.

This victory is a testament to the power of collaboration. The Organización Valle Cochamó (OVC) spearheaded the nomination process, working hand-in-hand with conservation organizations like Puelo Patagonia. Local communities, including herders, indigenous groups, tourism associations, and even the municipality, all played a crucial role in advocating for the valley's protection.

The sanctuary designation ensures the continuation of traditional activities like livestock herding, while prioritizing strict conservation practices in ecologically sensitive areas.

As tourism to the Cochamó Valley flourishes, with hikers, climbers, and nature enthusiasts drawn to its pristine wilderness, a management plan is on the horizon. This plan will focus on maintaining a delicate balance between responsible tourism and long-term conservation efforts.

The future of the Cochamó Valley is bright. The Organización Valle Cochamó (OVC) will manage the sanctuary in collaboration with the national property ministry, all under the watchful eye of Chile's Environment Ministry. As Tatiana Sandoval, president of the OVC, states, their focus now turns to "ensuring effective and sustainable protection over time."

This is a story of hope and a powerful reminder that through collective action, we can safeguard our irreplaceable natural wonders for generations to come.