rivers Leones and Claro

A case study of the experience of the

Private Protected Area Pichimahuida (PPAP),

a site for repair and healing of nature, and applied ecological restoration,

located in the valley of river Leones, Aysén (region XI), Chile,

under law 19.300 The Environmental  Framework Law

Private Protected Area Pichimahuida (PPAP)

Pichimahuida :

  1. Objective

  2. Location

  3. Access Leones

  4. Collaboration

  5. Friends

Terms of use



Site map

(to be build)

The case study:

    Consists of the analysis of the 12 years’ experience of a project for nature recuperation ( ≃ ecological restoration, reforestation, protection, rehabilitation), set up in Chilean Patagonia; of an experiment where private property is used to protect the privacy of nature, supported only by personal funds (with the exception of subsidies for reforestation (approx. 3/4 of real cost of planting) of and in kind donation), funds saved through long-term work at managerial positions in an international environmental organisation, international environmental conventions, chemicals treaties and a national EPA, and by using that experience; of the extend nature can regenerate after 80 years of large scale and severe degradation by anthropogenic activities, in a region where the ecosystems and wilderness have been consistently ruined, some of them collapsed and presently mainly novel ecosystems have developed; of which functions of the ecosystem could be restored, and which are lost forever.

    Uses, as well as this site, only personal experiences and conclusions. The experiences, solutions, challenges, achievements, mistakes and opportunities described here are specific to the present project and case study only, with some minimal extrapolation on the region. Due to the disinterest for this type of projects on the local level, resulting from the reticence to change land use from destructive cattle raising and uncontrolled development of adventure tourism, as well as to the high international valuation of the project, some pages are not translated into Spanish. Only a frame of the study is presented through this site, the project is detailed in a publication by the foundation mentioned below.

    Has been used to shape a private foundation dedicated to ecological restoration of degraded nature areas, based in Switzerland, and to design an In Rem Right of Conservation agreement (Chilean law 20.930) with it, so it can take the necessary steps to protect the area, to ensure long-term legal protection of the land of the project and re-created forest. It has also been used to identify solutions for making ecological restoration and reforestation projects independent, to identifying relevant existing experiences (f.e. nature exclusion zones) and philosophies (f.e. Biosphere theory or personhood of ecosystems), to develop own approaches, criteria and principles.

Original main objective of the PPAP:

The question heard most often: “Why are you here ?” - To give a better life to the land. And to use what we learned in our previous lives for that.

There was an opportunity, factual and legal, and an aspiration to protect the place.

The land was bought because it was severely destroyed and deserved a better life. The practical objective is to allow the development of nature as a natural habitat for wildlife, protecting it from human interventions and stress, and increasing its potential for ecological restoration of native species present in the valley, orienting the management towards their needs and priorities.

Vision: the ecosystem is as close as possible to what it was before the deliberate fires of the 1930s-1940s, a healthy ecosystem that does not degrade and that can evolve naturally.

12 years later:

Nature in recuperation

Active reforestation

Compensation reserve

Resilience pocket

Main attributes of the PPAP project:

land in private property (6 properties of approx. 1800 ha in total, managed as one), all legal provisions relevant to private property apply;

adjacent to the Laguna San Rafael National Park;

severely and irreversibly degraded ecosystem (anthropogenic activities), like most of the region;

in 2006, a long-term management program aimed at the recovery of such ecosystems was established;

the management and administration of the project do not seek to obtain economic gains;

the project is entirely oriented at the values, priorities and needs of nature, an area where nature’s rights prevail;

a reforestation project with native trees under current national legislation;

a test ground for ecological restoration techniques;

a test ground for nature-friendly logistics in remote areas;

ground for some limited monitoring activities of non-living matter ;

research for reliable long-term methods of legal protection of such projects;

based on the experience of the Swiss National Park (excluding visitors) and USSR zapovedniki;

located in a local institutional and customary environment that values nature degrading methods.

Therefore, the PPAP is not :

≠ not a park ;

≠ not open to any visitors ;

≠ not a conservation project ;

≠ not an attractive valley, due to the high level of anthropogenic degradation of the ecosystem.

The PPAP does not:

≠ not provide direct access to the San Rafael national park or / and to the Northern Patagonian Ice field;

≠ not develop or allow any type of tourism activities;

≠ not have land suitable for any type of  agriculture - no competition for land use.


Building protection

Assisting natural regeneration

Forest restoration

Soil restoration

Erosion control, desertification prevention

De-farming, removing cattle


Long-term monitoring

Working with change

Avoiding conservation

Information exchange

Highlighting damage to regional ecosystems

Promoting the right to responsibility for land and

    living matter

Adapting solutions to nature, not nature to solutions

Promoting restoration of nature for its own sake,

   not rebuilding natural resources

The main aspiration remains to protect the area


Anthropogenic threats: recently (last 80 years) imported colonial land and cattle management practices, uncontrolled tourism (any type), intrusive investigations (scientific and other), any type of publicity, pollution;

Natural threats: fire, climate change (via help to ecosystem’s move).


Independent natural regrowth and healing;

Special protection of sensitive areas;

Observations and experiences (observation vs. investigation) for solutions which prioritize nature;

Its privacy;

Survival of the project;

Demonstration of success of private non-institutional approach;