According to the World Travel Awards, Chile is the World’s Leading Green Destination and the world-class conservation and sustainability standards practiced in its National Parks have won the country even more green medals. Some of these parks are at the forefront of using clean energy to achieve self-sufficiency. Get to know what’s happening in the national parks at the end of the world.
Chile is a long and narrow country that turns greener every day. So green that for two years running it has been chosen World’s Leading Green Destination in the World Travel Awards – the Oscars of Tourism. Year after year, it rises further up the list of the world’s favorite destinations for ecotourism. Why? In large part, thanks to its 42 national parks. In fact, more than 20% of Chile’s territory is now part of a national park.
From the deserts of the north to the glaciers of the extreme south, Chile has decided to protect and look after its natural jewels and keep its native beauty intact. This includes the endemic flora and fauna that are found there and that are of special educational, scientific and recreational interest to humanity. Forests, salt flats, millennial ice formations and much more are available for the whole world to enjoy, within a framework of environmental respect and care provided by Chile’s National System of Protected Wild Areas, whose goal is to achieve the long-term conservation of these places.
Today, Chile is a global leader in the field of conservation due to its renowned capacity and willingness to create new protected areas. As an example, six national parks have been created since 2017, with an area of almost 3.8 million hectares (almost the size of Switzerland). The country is making significant progress in meeting the current international goals proposed by the Convention on Biological Diversity.
This year for the first time, two Chilean parks were selected to be certified and added to the “IUCN Green List”, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas, the highest international standard in conservation and tourism. Being on the list is synonymous with success in the management of protected areas and its goal is to raise the management standard of the parks that are on it to the fullest. Those carefully selected – which will be added to a list of only 78 places around the world – were the Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park in the Los Lagos Region, Chile’s oldest national park and one of its most visited, which forms part of the Temperate Rainforests of the Southern Andes Biosphere Reserve. It is surrounded by imposing volcanos, such as Osorno, Tronador and Puntiagudo, and also contains the famous Petrohué waterfalls and the immense Todos los Santos Lake. The other chosen for the list was the Cerro Castillo National Park, one of Patagonia’s most beautiful routes, where its imposing massif with hanging snowdrifts form turquoise waters among forests of trees and shrubs such as lenga, ñirre and calafate, and where huemul deer, red foxes, pumas, guanacos and the Patagonian chingue skunk roam.
The Route of Parks of Patagonia, made up of 17 national parks between Puerto Montt and Cape Horn, is a green lung for the world. After the Amazon, it is the area with the highest carbon storage capacity in South America. That is why it has long been a destination for travelers seeking an adventure in nature and a luxury retreat where the word sustainability is a true mantra. One of the places at the forefront of sustainability is the Patagonia Park, which has become a beacon of clean energy, with its own hybrid network of renewable hydroelectric and solar energy generation. Its system is designed to cover a large part of the Patagonia National Park’s energy demand. A 25% extension is now planned, which will avoid having to use back-up diesel generators and will achieve the long-awaited decarbonization of an area in which condors, guanacos, pumas and deer roam free and protected.
The UN has declared this decade key to tackling the climate crisis by restoring the world’s ecosystems. With this in mind, the creation of protected areas such as national parks will play a fundamental role, not only because forests and soils are effective at capturing the carbon emitted by greenhouse gases, but also because they are home to diverse native species that are vital to achieving equilibrium for Chile and for the planet.
That is why Chile’s national parks are innovating with rewilding (or ecological restoration) programs, one of the most effective solutions to counteract the species extinction and climate crises. Chile has understood that the creation of areas protected from extractive human intervention is key to achieving real integral conservation for the well-being of the entire planet. That is why Chile continues creating and enhancing its national parks, making it a cutting-edge green destination and an oasis for lovers of ecotourism throughout the world.