Reconnecting with land: a private restoration project in Chilean Patagonia

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John Whitelaw, Elena Sobakina

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The main theme of the Conference is the “New Trajectory”, however the ecological restoration cannot be effective without prior restoration of our relation to the land. With the multiplication of private protected areas globally, landowner practitioners, who restore nature areas they own, form nowadays an important group of restoration practitioners. Their land is generally smaller than state- or privately-protected (by non-State legal persons) areas, but constitutes an enrichment of the diversity of restoration paradigms, perspectives and experiences, often ignored by the institutionalized approach to restoration focusing on government agencies and academic research. The “owner practitioners” face the same challenges worldwide: the need to be a polymath, relying on, and sharing, own aspirations and experience. Often the rehabilitation or restoration has no commercial or immediate “service” value, but is aimed at rebuilding ecosystems. Because they lack the security of a legal entity, access to funding or other support is limited. Long-term legal and other protection is essential but difficult to secure. The above and other issues are reflected in a case study based on 15 years experience with a private project in Chilean Patagonia. The area is adjacent to the San Rafael National Park, was severely degraded in the last century, needs restoration (soil, native forest, wetlands) and serves as a buffer for the park, wildlife corridor and habitat for endangered species. The case study relates experience and successes useful for other owner practitioners by outlining approaches taken to address the environmental degradation, legal issues encountered, and challenges faced.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program