When the Kawésqar National Park was formed in the Chilean part of Patagonia in 2019, only one ranger was responsible for an expanse the size of Belgium. Its fjords, forests and Andean peaks are a beautiful wild nature, one of the few ecosystems left untouched by human activity, along with parts of the Amazon, the Sahara and eastern Siberia.
Chilean officials hope that Kawésqar will one day meet the high standards for protected areas set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and make it on the organization’s “green list”.
IUCN green list of protected and conserved areas is less known than his red list of threatened species. But this week, 10 more sites, in Switzerland, France and Italy, reached green list status, which total to 59 sites in 16 countries. The Contamines-Montjoie National Nature Reserve, near Mont Blanc, was one of seven added in France. increasing the country’s sites to 22, the highest number in the world. Approximately 500 sites in 50 countries are working to meet 17 governance, planning, management and nature preservation requirements to achieve this status.
In Chile, the rule has supported a large conservation campaign, including an update of the national park system. The country has established a large network of protected areas in Patagonia, with more rangers in Kawésqar. On Earth Day, Chile announced that it would propose two parks for green list approval.
“The green list is an opportunity for aspiration and hope. Conservation is often about red lists, threats, and possible extinctions. This is the opposite, ”says Víctor Lagos San Martín, head of monitoring, development and governance of wild areas at the National Forestry Corporation of Chile. “The list helps us figure out how we can paint the planet green. It helped our plans for the national park system. “
One of the strengths of the standard is that it doesn’t always reward the usual suspects in conservation, according to James Hardcastle, who leads the IUCN green list initiative. It is designed to recognize success stories, big and small. Along with established national parks, indigenous reserves and provincial parks have achieved status, while the better known protected areas are still working to get on the list.
Hardcastle says the standard aims to improve the quality of conservation work around the world and, where necessary, encourage parks and governments to confront difficult truths about indigenous rights and unsustainable tourism models.
“We have around 250,000 protected areas and global studies show that most of them are not managed effectively,” he says. “Successful conservation is only achieved when the balance of caring for local interests and values with reference to national and international elements is achieved.”
A commitment to protect around 30% of the land and sea by 2030 is likely to be agreed upon at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which is scheduled for later this year in Kunming, China.
Dozens of countries, including the UK, Costa Rica and France, have already pledged.
Hardcastle hopes that the green list standards will prevent countries from imposing strict controls on areas in the name of nature conservation to meet these commitments.
“The green list is not a beauty pageant nor is it about showing who is the greatest. We have sites like the Amarakaeri reserve in Peru, which is an indigenous territory. Conservation there is just as effective, if not better, than a strict protection model. When you have smaller sites on the green list, you get a bit of a competitive advantage to do that, ”he says.
The Communal Archeology Reserve in the Amazon basin in eastern Peru it is managed through a partnership with the government and the Harakmbut, Yine and Machiguenga communities, protecting the forest from illegal gold miners, loggers and drug smuggling. The reserve maintains the water quality of the area and operates a sustainable nut crop to support local communities.
“I am convinced that you cannot have protected areas for nature if the people who live in and around them do not benefit. For me, our co-governance model is a big step forward, ”says Asvin Florez Gil, who heads the government side of the Amarakaeri reserve association. “Protected areas do not have to be a threat to indigenous communities. Quite the opposite. “
Walter Quertehuari Dariquebe, who represents the indigenous communities in the alliance, is clear about the benefits.
“We have learned that development and conservation can go hand in hand. Because conservation has had economic benefits for communities, it is not seen as a threat, ”he says.
“It is a shared governance structure. We make decisions and look for opportunities together. We are different from a national park that is a bit more reserved and structured. In the reserve we can take advantage of the resources in a sustainable way ”.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism