March 29, 2014

Hope for Torres del Paine

Native forests in Torres del Paine National Park.
© HernánTorres

by Marcela Torres

The disastrous fire that razed 17,606 hectares (43,505 acres) of forests in Torres del Paine National Park between December 2011 and January 2012 inspired many people in Chile and other countries to help.

For example, some firefighting brigades from Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Australia, came to provide assistance in controlling the emergency. Other people, in turn, raised their voices through the social networks demanding greater responsibility in tourism and support for the reforestation of Patagonia. Response was quick and in this entry we highlight two initiatives that bring hope for Torres del Paine National Park.

Rotem Zinger and the “Black to Green” Campaign

Who is Rotem Zinger? The Israeli tourist who caused the last fire in the Park. To avoid extending the trial against him, in February 2012 Zinger settled with the Puerto Natales Court a payment of 10 thousand United States dollars in compensation for the damages resulting from his actions and he will have to work as a volunteer between one and two years for the international non-governmental organization Keren Kayemet LeIsrael –which specializes in reforestation and has an office in Chile- taking over the role of coordinating the campaign “Torres del Paine, from Black to Green”.

The aim is to raise funds to reproduce at least 50,000 plants of native forest species in greenhouses in Puerto Natales that are owned by the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) –government agency that manages protected areas in Chile- in order to use them in the reforestation of the National Park. Zinger is forced to promote the initiative through different media, particularly among the Jewish community in Chile and its website, replicating the campaign carried out in 2011 to reforest Mount Carmel in Israel. In addition, he will need to present progress reports every three months to CONAF.

Although public opinion in Chile did not initially believe he would see this campaign through, something has already been done. On April 22 the initiative was officially launched with a call to the Chilean Jewish community in to continue showing its loyalty to Chile and Israel by supporting this effort to bring back the green to Torres del Paine.

Donations are being received in the following account:
Corporación Keren Kayemet Leisrael FNJ Chile
RUT 65.009.118-3
Banco Corpbanca
Cuenta Corriente Nº 3331692

Let’s Reforest Patagonia

At the beginning of May, a campaign called “Let’s Reforest Patagonia” was launched by several governmental institutions and non-governmental environmental organizations. This original initiative seeks to organize citizens to donate 1 million native trees that will be planted in the Torres del Paine and Laguna San Rafael national parks and in the Lago Carlota and Cerro Castillo national reserves during 2012.

How does this work? For each US $4.00, people making donations will be able to have a tree under their name in Patagonia. A grid is displayed on the website with green trees and burnt trees. To make a donation, a person must click on a burnt tree. Once the transaction has been made, the person receives a certificate with the coordinates of the place where the tree will be planted.

So far, the campaign has obtained funds to reforest more than 67,000,000 trees, according to the website’s counter. Therefore, there’s still time to help restore the beautiful Chilean Patagonia.

Let’s do it! Hope is not lost yet!

This entry was originally posted by the author on June 6, 2012.

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