Chilean Patagonia is known as one of the world’s last great areas of wilderness, and boasts some of the most dramatic landscapes on the planet.
It is the country’s premier travel destination, with almost half of all tourists to Chile choosing to come to the Andean nation for this jagged horn of land in 2011.
So it was not surprising that when a fire swept across the area’s crowning jewel – the Torres del Paine National Park – earlier this year, the effects of the devastation were felt around the world, as all eyes turned to the rare, threatened beauty of Chilean Patagonia.
But though the event was devastating, what is less known is that it was not the first time.
In the past 100 years, more than 7.5 million acres (3 million ha) of native forest in the area have been destroyed by fire and human intervention.
Now, a nonprofit, public-private campaign is hoping to leverage the high profile of Chilean Patagonia and the media coverage generated by the recent Torres del Paine fire to launch the largest, most ambitious native-tree reforestation campaign in Chile’s history
“The latest fire occurred in December 2011, when a fire burned 42,500 acres (17,200 ha) in Torres del Paine National Park—images that profoundly impacted Chile’s citizens and motivated this native-tree reforestation campaign,” said Matías Rivera, Executive Director of Reforest Patagonia.
Reforest Patagonia, officially launched on May 4, in Santiago, invites Chile citizens and foreigners to participate in recovering one of the world’s most ecologically valuable places.
The campaign aims to plant 1 million native trees, of the lenga, ñirre, and coigüe species, in four national parks and reserves in Chilean Patagonia, recovering 2,000 acres (8,100 ha) of protected wilderness in 2012 alone.
How to participate
You can purchase a tree for Chilean Patagonia for just US$4. Alternatively you can buy a tree voucher for a friend.
Once a tree has been bought, it is geotagged to Google Maps, which displays the exact location where it will be planted.
For more information, or to buy a tree, go to the official website.