Conservation meets sustainable development in Chilean south

In Patagonia’s temperate rainforests a private reserve is bringing together environmentalists, indigenous people and tourism operators. 

It’s hard to believe that the 24,710 acres (10,000 ha) of temperate Patagonian rainforest that is now the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve in southern Chile was once slated for deforestation.
But the good news is that not only was this land – home to countless rare and endemic flora and fauna – protected from developed; today, it stands as an example of what the private sector can contribute to conservation.
A recent report by the Qatar-based global news provider, Al Jazeera, from the Huilo Huilo reserve praises the vision of the wealthy Chilean entrepreneurs Ivone Reifshneider and partner Victor Peterman and their project that is bringing together environmentalists, indigenous Mapuche people and tourism operators.
“Our focus in the long run [is it that] this thing should be self sufficient economically, because if not, it will disappear,” Peterman tells the Al Jazeera reporter, explaining the philosophy behind this effort that combines conservation with sustainable development.
The clip, just under three minutes, also features a cameo by Fernando Vidal, the wildlife director of the Huilo Huilo Foundation, which is responsible only successful breeding program of the critically endangered huemul, or South Andean Deer.
“They are in isolated populations [throughout Chile], they don’t have contact from one population to another, so they are facing the risk of extinction,” Vidal said, explaining the significance of huemul breeding program at Huilo Huilo.
The innovative thinking at Huilo Huilo doesn’t end there – the reserve is also home to some of the most extraordinary, and environmentally friendly hotels in Chile. One such hotel is shaped like an upside-down beehive and another, the Montaña Mágica Lodge, has a series of waterfalls cascading down its slanted walls, built to resemble a pine tree.
And if that wasn’t enough to pique your interest in the Huilo Huilo reserve, you can throw in an adventure park, fishing, rafting, horse riding and hiking options…not to mention a microbrewery.
For more information on the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve check out the report embedded above, or follow this link.