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11 Conservation targets in Torres del Paine National Park

Diego Salas

When visiting nature, such as the Torres del Paine National Park, we must keep in mind the importance of reducing as much as possible the impact that we generate with each of our movements.  This way, we’ll all do our part to protect and conserve its natural and cultural heritage.

Currently, there are species at risk of extinction and a cultural history that must be preserved.  For this reason, the excursions at Tierra Patagonia always ensure to respect nature and the local communities.

Without leaving a trace behind, we can experience the variety of attractions that this incredible place offers through different hikes, horseback riding, biking, etc.  Fortunately, there are many trails with different levels of difficulty, so that with proper preparation, anybody can enjoy the beauty of Patagonia.

These are some of the most important conservation targets held by the Torres del Paine park and its surroundings:

  1. Huemul – Picture by Natalia Reyes.

    Huemul: This animal is an emblem of Chile, alongside the condor, forming part of its national shield. Protecting this species of deer means taking care of its habitat during its entire life cycle.  It is very difficult to spot, due to its rareness and that it is normally found in forests and steep bluffs.

  2. Puma: This big cat is a symbol of the Torres del Paine and is categorized as near threatened. Its conservation is very important.  Due to its wide range of movement through the zone, its existence benefits other species such as guanacos, foxes and ñandú (rheas).
  3. Nothofagus forests: Forest fires have strongly impacted the presence of this type of forest.  Its conservation is fundamental, as it serves as the habitat to many species, such as the black woodpecker, predatory birds, bats, and also different types of mushrooms, flowers, and other flora.
  4. High-Andean vegetation: This conservation target refers to the endemic vegetation located at higher altitudes, composed of around 180 species, which represent between 40 and 50 percent of the types of plants in the Park.
  5. Patagonian steppe: The connectivity between the forest and the steppe is possible thanks to this ecosystem, made up of mainly medium-height brush. This allows for a large quantity of animals such as pumas, ñandús, armadillos, and others, to use it as a refuge and for food.  For this reason, its conservation is extremely important.
  6. Wetlands. These sweetwater reservoirs are very fragile and play a fundamental role in the hydrological balance of the environments that surround them. They are aquatic ecosystems which contain a large biodiversity, being the habitat and food source of different species of birds, insects and amphibians.
  7. Hydrological resources: Both inside and outside of the Torres del Paine National Park there exists a large number of lakes, lagoons, rivers, glaciers, and ice fields. In addition to sustaining human life, water is of vital importance to the local flora and fauna, which is why it is necessary to monitor its quantity and quality in order to guarantee its conservation.
  8. Visual landscapes: Preserving the scenic beauty of the park means protecting one of the main attributes of Chilean Patagonia. To do so, a series of coordinated efforts have been created with the goal of conserving each aspect that makes up this landscape.  The combination of forms, colors and textures create a high visual quality that astounds visitors throughout the year.
  9. Paleontological Sites: Fossils and calcareous formations, such as the thrombolites found along the shore of Lake Sarmiento, just steps away from the hotel Tierra Patagonia, are a conservation target due to their historical attributes which show us how life was millions of years ago.
  10. Archaeological Sites: The tehuelches or Aonikenk were a nomadic tribe that inhabited this territory more than 11 thousand years ago. To this day there exists evidence of their paths, such as cave paintings. The conservation of this cultural legacy is essential for present and future generations.
  11. Historical Memory: The gauchos are part of the cultural identity of the territory that today makes up the Torres del Paine Park. These were the people who worked the lands, long before it was declared a national park. To conserve this aspect, there are efforts to preserve the infrastructure of the oldest estancias, livestock routes – which today are paths – and in the toponomy that is used, among other things. At Tierra Patagonia, for example, there are a variety of excursions on horseback with the participation of these estancias, where the baquedanos share their stories and anecdotes.

The Torres del Paine National Park is a wonderful place which deserves to be protected by all those who visit.  It is very important to visit responsibly, and for this reason, Tierra Patagonia has committed to promote good environmental practices and cultural preservation.