Torres del Paine national park is a stunning yet fragile place. Over the past few years and despiste a “pandemic break”, the yearly amount of travelers visiting Chile’s most beautiful national park is quickly increasing. The increasing pressure on the trails and on wildlife are just some of the challenges the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund has been tackling for about a decade.
At EcoCamp, we are proud to support this nonprofit initiative while inviting travelers to donate. All proceeds of our delicious Legacy Drink (an author drink in the bar Dome : see picture below) go to the organization. And guides educate travelers about the Fund’s commitment to conservation while hiking through the most iconic trails in the park, such as the towers’ base.
Picture below : the "Legacy Drink" at EcoCamp. Proceeds of this author drink go to the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund for conservation in the park
To put it in a nutshell, the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund seeks to make tourism a vehicle for positive change in Patagonia. To understand better their mission, we’ve gather with TdP Legacy Fund director Fiorella Repetto Giavelli and CREST (Center for Responsible Tourism) director Wesley Espinosa.
1) What are the “key” missions of the Legacy Fund this season?
Our actions as Torres del Paine Legacy Fund this season are framed in the execution of the Huemul (the endangered south Andean deer) conservation project, for which we hope to carry out at least 3 volunteer projects in Torres del Paine national park, specifically in the towers’ base viewpoint trail. There we are working on the improvement on the trail in the public area, while building rock stairs in the moraine, making improvements with drainage and outlining slopes on the trail. In addition, we are working on some re-routings that will improve the quality of the visit in the sector, the security and protection of the huemul habitat.
We are also leading a project in the Serrano area with the aim to recover and control the effects of the presence of livestock in said sector. Everything will of course be accompanied by the corresponding community work with neighbors and tourism organizations.
2) What have been the main achievements of the Legacy Fund these past few years?
During the last few years Legacy has put its efforts into collaborative actions with CONAF, international organizations such as Conservation VIP, Earthbound Project and our local, national and international partners for the conservation of Torres del Paine, an important part of these actions translate into:
- At the beginning of 2022, completion and opening of the Lago Skottsberg Trail, which goes between C. Paine Grande and Italiano
- In May 2023, a two-day Workshop on the Huemul (south Andean deer) was held in Puerto Natales, which included the collaboration and participation of more than 50 people from different organizations and the local community.
- During 2023, more than 180 students from the communes of Puerto Natales and Torres del Paine have participated in the Workshop and Photographic Exhibition on the huemul and its habitat, being able to raise awareness and sensitize the younger generations of our community.
- Between 2022 and 2023 we have advanced more than 3 km of improvement of the towers’ base trail, understanding that this trail is an important habitat for the huemul in the national park.
3) What are your main goals and work when it comes to the conservation of the south Andean deer?
Our main goal is to be able to position the south andean deer as an emblematic species of the region and in particular of the Province of Última Esperanza. This endangered species is part of our national and regional identity and it is through the conservation of its habitat that allows it to be preserved and with it the life of many other native species that cohabit in these forests. In this sense, the most important work is community work, strengthening the spaces for collaboration and care of the habitat in which all of us who are part of this community work, learn and develop.
4) How do companies in the park and CONAF collaborate to make possible conservation projects in the park?
Our model is a collaboration model, we constantly seek to link up with different organizations and institutions, in the first instance with CONAF but also with companies that carry out their activities in the region, giving them an opportunity to give back to this wonderful place. Through our organization, we want to give the protected areas of Magallanes the care they deserve. We present ourselves as an option that contributes to the sustainability of tourism and that allows us to unite everyone around the conservation of biodiversity, on which we all depend.
5) How can travelers support you?
Visitors can help us in many ways. Most importantly, they should always respect the rules of the park and inform themselves about the environment that surrounds them while visiting the area. We also have a donation link in which anyone can donate a voluntary contribution.
Contributions are allocated entirely to the work and care of the protected areas of the region. They also help us by preferring our partners and collaborators, such as Ecocamp and the Legacy Fund cocktail, whose price is direct fundraising for our organization.
6) What are the key dates of the Legacy Fund for the upcoming months?
- From November 27th to December 17th, two volunteering projects will take place on the towers’ base trail, together with volunteers, experts and collaborators.
- During the months of January and February, we will be making actions and interventions on the towers’ base trail and in the Serrano area while making interpretative panels.
- Towards the mid and late February we hope to organize the last cycle of volunteering projects with the support of Conservation VIP.
7) What are the main threats for conservation in Torres del Paine and what are the possible solutions?
Based on the history of the park and what we have been able to demonstrate, the greatest threat to the conservation in Torres del Paine has been the lack of education among visitors and workers. Different actions have put the park in danger, in addition to the constant pressure of tourism that is saturating trails so important to the south Andean deer, such as the towers’ base trail. We must all become aware of the value of the park and its biodiversity, since it is what attracts thousands of visitors to travel to the southernmost region on Earth. We must support its conservation in the medium - long term and give back to this wonderful place so that future generations can also know and enjoy it.
Want to support conservation in Torres del Paine national park via the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund? You can donate here!