Lagartija Island, in the process of becoming a Nature Sanctuary

Due to its important role in the preservation and reproduction of birds, along with its cultural heritage; Lagartija Island is just one step away from becoming a new Nature Sanctuary.

Imagen: Nicolás
Imagen: Nicolás

After going through most of the processes in order to become a Nature Sanctuary, the Lagartija or Kaikué Island has received approval from the ministers and it’s just a few steps away from becoming a protected area.

Also known as Kaikué Island, which means “Island of the Birds”, this little place is located northeast from the Ancud gulf. It has a total surface of 30,2 hectares, but it usually looks smaller during the high tides, where the ocean covers up most of its borders. It’s part of the Calbuco commune’s archipelago, Llanquihue province, in Los Lagos Región.

The initiative of turning this uninhabited island into a conservation area began not only due to the interest of protecting its flora and fauna, but also the cultural and natural heritage, while also remarking the importance of the small-scale fishing in the area.

The Nature Sanctuary designation is provided to the territories, located whether in land or in the ocean, that allow different geological, paleontological, zoological, botanical and ecological studies; or that has characteristics that may be of interest for investigations or to the State itself. When talking about the Lagartija Island, Los Lagos’s Regional Ministerial Secretary of Environment (Seremi del Medio Ambiente de la Región de Los Lagos) and several marine biologist of Universidad de Los Lagos were in charge of supervising the island during three years in order to gather enough data for the process of awarding the title of Nature Sanctuary.

Just as its name suggests, the island is of great ecological value due to the fact that it’s a nesting place for at least 7 different types of seabirds, some of them are the Magellanic Penguins, the Kelp Gull, and the Fuegian steamer duck; among others. It is of great importance to maintain this area protected in order to allow the reproduction of this forementioned birds and other species that make this island their home.

On the other hand, the cultural heritage that aims to be protected it’s related to the piles of seashells and instruments, fishing pens and canoe hinges of great historical and cultural value found in the island, since they reflect on how our traditional indigenous groups used to live, specially the nomads, within this natural environment and they give some sort of idea of the activities that they used to perform.

Lastly, there is a regional interest of maintaining the traditional process of gathering products from the ocean that has been carried out during decades, such as the fishing of invertebrate animals and shellfish; along with the regulated gathering of seaweed. This final point will also help to improve the sustainability of this protected area.

This post is also available in Spanish