At continent’s tip, Chilean reserve redefines conservation

Donated to the Wildlife Conservation Society by Goldman Sachs in 2004, the Karukinka nature reserve provides a model for public-private conservation efforts. 

Travel to Chile. Upon arriving, head to southern Patagonia, near the tip of South America. Cross the Magellan Strait,” writes Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in the National Geographic magazine.
The good doctor is directing readers to the Karukinka nature reserve, in the southern wilds of Patagonia. “It is distant and isolated,” writes Sanderson. “You are now exploring one of the greatest wild places left on Earth.”
Located on the island of Tierra del Fuego, jutting out of the bottom of the South American continent, the reserve is a hiker’s paradise, and an important biological sanctuary.
Marine life abounds there – from dolphins and sea lions to albatross and king penguins, while on land, the southernmost population of flamingos lives alongside culpeo fox, Magellanic woodpecker and guanaco.
But Karukinka is something else; more than just another of Chilean Patagonia’s spectacular natural landscapes, it is a testament to an entirely different vision of conservation.
In 2004, the 680,000 acres (272,000ha) of land that make up the reserve were donated by U.S. financial company Goldman Sachs to the WCS.
The arrangement was designed to “ensure conservation in the region in perpetuity,” and pioneer “a new kind of partnership for conservation of these precious wild lands, which reflect the importance of Chile for global conservation,” said Sanderson at the time.
Based on the promotion of public-private cooperation, local-global interaction, and national and international participation, the organization is trying to develop new mechanisms of economic sustainability.
“WCS expects to work with Goldman Sachs to assure not only Karukinka’s ecological but also financial sustainability,” says the organization on its official website. “WCS has created an Advisory Board that brings together representatives of the scientific and business sectors, mainly Chileans, that will provide recommendations and advice favoring Karukinka’s development.”
To find out more, visit the Karukinka website. And to read Sanderson’s description of the reserve, click here.