Chile Unites to Restore Torres del Paine National Park’s Most Iconic Trail
“Tu Mejor Huella para el Paine” is a collaborative conservation campaign that aims to bring together the national and international community to restore the Base Torres trail in Torres del Paine National Park.
Torres del Paine, Magallanes, Chile (August 22, 2018) – A large-scale national and international conservation campaign was recently launched to support the long-term health of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park. A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and declared as the 8th wonder of the world in 2013, Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most renowned destinations in Chile and Latin America. The park’s rugged Patagonian landscape featuring turquoise lakes, massive glaciers, and jutting peaks, draws visitors from all over the world. Over 260,000 travelers visited the park last year – a figure that is expected to rise by 10% annually.
The campaign, titled Tu Mejor Huella para el Paine (Your Best Footprint for Paine), aims to restore the iconic Base Torres trail, which leads to the impressive natural wonder that is the park’s centerpiece – the trio of granite spires or “Towers of Paine.” Three organizations are partnering together to promote this campaign and implement the restoration project – the Chilean National Forest Corporation (CONAF), the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund and AMA Torres del Paine.
The most popular of Torres del Paine’s trekking routes, the Base Torres trail can receive 1,000 hikers in a single day. As a result, many stretches of the trail are seriously eroded and in need of repair. The harsh Patagonian weather, characterized by frequent rain and strong winds that can reach up to 100 km/h, has only exacerbated these impacts, as have the steep grades and poor initial alignment resulting from the animals, not hikers, that first blazed the path.
In 2015, Shuswap Trail Alliance, a company specializing in the construction of sustainable trails, conducted an on-site diagnostic to evaluate trail conditions. The findings corroborated what most already knew: the Base Torres trail is in a state of serious degradation, posing a safety concern for hikers and diminishing the visitor experience while also impacting sensitive surrounding ecosystems. CONAF realizes that addressing this problem has become an urgent priority, “This campaign seeks to restore the main trail to Base Torres, which today is in a state of severe disrepair, not only due to its frequent use, but to climatic factors as well. That’s why CONAF lends its support to this initiative,” says Mauricio Vejar, CONAF Magallanes’ Regional Director.
The Tu Mejor Huella para el Paine campaign was conceived to address this challenge and build awareness in Chile around the importance of trail stewardship and national parks. The restored and newly constructed trail system will follow sustainable trail design and construction principles to ensure trail longevity, minimize environmental impacts, as well as the need for continual maintenance. The goal is to enhance the visitor experience and safety while connecting people to nature in an engaging, responsible way. This multi-stakeholder public-private initiative is a means to mobilize and unite numerous stakeholders around environmental stewardship. “This campaign will start the conversation about the role of trails and national parks by working together on one of our most iconic–one of which all Chileans should be proud,” says Mauricio Kusanovic, President of AMA Torres del Paine.
A non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing sustainability within the region, The Torres del Paine Legacy Fund is evidence to the positive environmental impact that collective stewardship efforts can create. “In the last few years, we’ve witnessed how shared stakeholder commitment can translate into tangible conservation actions that further the sustainability of the park. Tu Mejor Huella para el Paine is a prime example of this. We hope that as a result of this campaign, more visitors, citizens, and businesses from all over Chile and around the world become more involved in protecting our planet’s natural assets, particularly one as important as Torres del Paine,” says Emily Green, Legacy Fund Director.
According to Alejandra Vial, Cerveza Austral’s CRO, one of the companies supporting this initiative, “Patagonia is part of our brand’s DNA, not only because our origins are in Punta Arenas, but also because for over 120 years, we have seen and been a part of the area’s tourism development.” For Austral, the best way to support the region is to contribute to these kind of initiatives that allow visitors to continue to responsibly enjoy the wonders of Torres del Paine.
Restoring the Base Torres trail is not a simple task, which is why the campaign is looking to the national and international community for widespread support. The rebuild of the circuit comprises a 30km round trip journey and is estimated to cost about USD $1.2 million. “The Government and CONAF do a great job maintaining our trails, but the challenge here is huge and as a civil society, we can all help through small actions of giving. Today, we are already working next to CONAF and Torres del Paine Legacy Fund on this challenge, so we invite individuals, businesses, and organizations to join in the care of the 8th Wonder of the World,” Kusanovic concludes.
To learn more or make a donation to the campaign, please visit www.tumejorhuella.com. Or if you’re an international tourism business and would like to support the campaign, please contact [email protected]. Just $650 CLP or $1 USD helps rebuild one square meter of trail.
About NGO AMA Torres del Paine
An environmental non-profit organization that operates in Torres del Paine National Park and whose mission is to conserve the natural and cultural resources of the area by supporting conservation, scientific investigation, and environmental education. www.amatorresdelpaine.org
Corporación Nacional Forestal, CONAF
An autonomous institution of the Chilean government under the Ministry of Agriculture charged with administering the state’s forest policy, driving development of the sector, combatting forest fires, and administering the country’s protected áreas. www.conaf.cl
Torres del Paine Legacy Fund
A non-profit initiative dedicated to preserving, supporting, and celebrating Torres del Paine and its surrounding communities. The Torres del Paine Legacy Fund works with the public and private sectors, fellow NGOs, visitors and residents to fund and implement local sustainability projects that advance a more sustainable future for the province of Ultima Esperanza. supporttdp.org
Tags: chile, Conservation, environment, national parks, protected areas, sustainable trail design, Torres del Paine, trail building, trail construction, trail maintenance, trail restoration, trail work