The Government of Canada is committed to helping preserve pristine wilderness both at home and abroad. To this end, during his visit to Chile on April 16, 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Canada’s contribution to the restoration of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park which was ravaged by wildfires in December 2011 and January 2012.
The iconic Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most heavily visited national parks in South America and an economic engine for Chile’s Magallanes region. The fires, which destroyed approximately 20,000 hectares of the park and received international media attention, resulted in the temporary closure of the park to visitors. While the park has now reopened, numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations are working together to identify and implement actions that will restore its natural splendour and secure the future of the local tourism industry.
Canada’s is contributing $450,000 over one year to restoration efforts through the Government of Canada’s Fast Start Climate Change Financing program. The support will go towards re-planting native vegetation and helping visitors and the public understand how their efforts can contribute to enhancing the ecological integrity of the park, build its resilience to climate change, and reduce the risk of fires. A portion of the funds will also support wetland conservation initiatives in other areas of Chile — specifically Nevado Tres Cruces National Park, in the Atacama region, and the El Yali National Reserve in the Valparaiso region — so that these important natural systems are better able to adapt to climate-related changes.
Support for these projects is in keeping with the objectives of the Canada-Chile Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, one of the side agreements of the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, which aims to enhance environmental cooperation between the two countries.