Project of Sustainable Development and Conservation of the Last Cold Forests of the Planet
Until the early 90s, Chilean economic development was implemented without taking into account environmental matters, i.e. with no environmental institutions involved nor environmental legislation. This situation ended in a deterioration of the quality and regeneration capacity of natural resources.
This model of development changed when democracy arrived to Chile. Sustainable development was then approached as a goal. As a first step to achieve this goal, there appeared a group of measures that established the basic lines of an efficient legislation.
Since the first contact between ENDESA and the Pontificia Catholic University of Valparaiso (UCV), the main purpose of their cooperation was clear: to protect the environmental richness of Huinay territory, promoting a sustainable development of its local community.
As a result, both institutions founded the San Ignacio de Huinay Foundation. The statutory objectives of this Foundation are oriented to set up an experimental prototype inspired on a sustainable development conception, replicable in other areas of Chile and the rest of the world.The activities implemented by the San Ignacio de Huinay Foundation pursue to increase the knowledge of this area under both a scientific and environmental point of view, to facilitate its socio-economic development and to promote a cultural exchange.
Even though all implemented actions have a strong environmental and socio-economic component, they have been classified in three main areas:
- Science, infrastructures and environment
Among all the initiatives that the Foundation has put into action, the foundation of a Scientific Centre, inaugurated the 3rd of December 2001, stands out. The Foundations main goals are to create a meeting point for national and international scientific communities, to promote the study of the biological and physical potential of marine and terrestrial habitats, and to ensure the conservation of cold forests. The ultimate goal is to preserve natural resources for future generations.
Major areas of work are, among others: energy efficiency and clean energy technologies, reduction of atmospheric, hydro and soil pollution, restoration of degraded or eroded areas, analysis and conservation of biodiversity in Patagonian fiords, characterisation and conservation of biodiversity and dynamic of environment, evaluation of ecosystemic services, environmental education, etc.
This Centre intends to serve as a model and pilot experience for the implementation of similar scientific investigations as well as any other initiatives pursuing a sustainable development not only in South America but also in the rest of our Planet.San Ignacio de Huinay Foundation has invested almost 2.5 million US$. This money has been provided by ENDESA, and has been allocated mainly to the creation of the Scientific Centre. Other minor investments were assigned to a small quay and a boat, both essential for the mobility along the area. In addition, Chilectra (ENDESAs distribution company in Santiago de Chile), provided approximately US$85,000, which were spent in building of an electric grid in Huinay.
In what refers to operational expenditures, San Ignacio de Huinay Foundation has spent about US$500,000 since the beginning of 2000. It is expected that the Foundation will spend about US$186,000 per year in order to maintain the same level in all the operations.Results have been very positive, meaning important advantages in different areas. All stakeholders have obtained benefits:
- Local community of Huinay has improved its quality of life, thanks, for example, to the development of transport and communication infrastructures (satellite telephone, access to the Internet, quicker and more regular transport to important towns, etc.), access to electricity, improvement in health and training services, etc.
- Huinay is managed in a sustainable way that preserves its biodiversity. Two examples are the development of facilities for a better management of domestic waste and the creation of pastures, addressing the problem of forest degradation due to livestock grazing.
- National and international scientific communities have now access to a top quality scientific centre, located in an exceptional area of great ecological value due to the diversity of habitats, fauna and flora.
The result is a unique project that may serve as a model for similar initiatives in Chile and in the rest of the world.
As the President of Chile emphasized this reserve is not only for the country, but also for all Humanity, and demonstrates that we are able to investigate trees and flowers thus learning to use these resources without destroying them.
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