Conservation In Torres Del Paine National Park


How the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund supports the protection of a National Park

Torres del Paine is without doubt one of Chile´s most impressive regions.

Nature lovers encounter amazing scenery with dramatic granite peaks, forests, blue lakes and glaciers. Wildlife enthusiasts are amazed by the Patagonian wildlife they can observe on the trails. Guanacos, Condors, Foxes and with some luck even the Puma. And for hikers the park offers some of the world´s best hiking routes, among them the famous W-Trek.

No wonder that the number of travelers that want to experience this natural miracle are increasing year after year. Increasing visitation is positive news for the local tourism industry. But at the same time presents challenges for the fragile ecosystem.

The Torres del Paine Legacy Fund is a non-profit initiative that works to protect and enhance this iconic destination through locally led sustainability initiatives.

We spoke with the fund´s director, Emily Green, about its history. Their conservation work and what travelers can do to support Torres del Paine´s long-term health.

What made you launch the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund back in 2014?

Well, the Legacy Fund’s founders were concerned about the impacts of the region’s rapidly increasing visitation. They were struck by the lack of collaborative mechanisms in place at the time to address them. And they ensure growth was sustainable over the longer-term. So with assistance from Sustainable Travel International, they launched the Legacy Fund as a means to mobilize and implement collective stewardship of this world treasure. Visitors, businesses, municipalities, park authorities, residents, fellow NGOs, international and domestic, all have a vested interest in safeguarding the future of this iconic destination, so we wanted to provide a platform that enabled these diverse stakeholders to come together and implement tangible sustainability actions – achieve greater collective impact than any one entity could alone.

What projects are you currently working on?

To keep up with the Park’s intensive and increasing use, we’ve focused recent technical and financial assistance on maintaining and improving the heavily utilized “O” and “W” circuits, enhancing the visitor experience while mitigating impacts to surrounding habitat. We’ve had 40 dedicated volunteers join us this past season to build a new trail between Paine Grande and Italiano camps, jointly with park rangers and ConservationVIP, and we’ve been conducting trainings in trail maintenance and construction fundamentals for park rangers. Next season we’re aiming to install boardwalks and interpretive displays to enhance the protection and enjoyment of the park’s critical but lesser known wetland ecosystems.

How do you involve the local community?

All of our projects are proposed or implemented by local stakeholders. We have an agreement of mutual collaboration with CONAF under which we work closely with park staff and rangers to prioritize, plan, and implement initiatives in the park that advance our shared visitor management and conservation goals. Our trail projects recruit and train volunteers from all over Chile to be involved in park stewardship and beyond the park, the Legacy Fund is intended to be a resource for Natalinos – a community foundation to which any resident can apply to receive financial or technical assistance for a project that they feel will improve their neighborhood, their environment. How can visitors of Torres del Paine support you?

Conscientious travelers have tremendous power to positively impact the places and communities they visit. In Torres del Paine, you can help by spreading the word about the Legacy Fund on social media, or donating to a sustainability project. Also, when selecting your travel agency, lodging or operator, don’t only look at what they’re doing to green their own internal operations, but whether they’re giving back to the broader community in which they do business. Talk with the Latinspirations team about the responsible local businesses making a difference in Torres del Paine!

Thank you Emily!

If you want to help preserve Torres del Paine for future generations, visit the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund.

For sustainable tourism experiences in Torres del Paine and other parts of Patagonia, see our Patagonia tour selection.

How the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund supports the protection of a National Park

By Latinspirations / Maike Berkemeier

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