rivers Leones and Claro

November 2018

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

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 national subsidies for reforestation covering most of the planting 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; to what extent the resilience can be rebuilt and of what exactly ecosystem we are rebuilding resilience.


    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 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 foundation dedicated to protection of the rights of the forests in order to restore 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. rights of the forests, Biosphere theory or personhood of ecosystems), to develop own approaches, criteria and principles.

    Seeks to apply holistic approach to land conservation and forest protection, summarized as protection of living matter, based on personally identified  best available practices (BAP) for this particular project, regardless of their physical or time location, for the determining facets of the project.

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, protected as a private nature restoration reserve.

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 inert 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 accepts nature degrading methods.

Therefore, the PPAP is not :

≠ not a park ;

≠ not open to any visitors ;

≠ not a conservation project ;

≠ not an attractive area, 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,

    being too degraded;

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

Strategies / Steps taken

Main: change of land use away from agriculture to nature protection, and

Protection from immediate stresses: removal of cattle, protecting sensitive areas, stabilising eroding areas, channelling tourists

Assisting natural regeneration

Aforestation with native trees

Wetland restoration

Developing supporting infrastructure

Erosion control, desertification prevention

De-farming, protection from cattle


Internships and volunteers programmes

Commitment to long-term management

Working with change, avoiding conservation

Information exchange, highlighting damage to regional ecosystems

Legal arrangements for future land protection

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).


Continuously strengthening resilience of a forest ecological community;

Responding to needs of global issues, such as climate change;

Independent natural regrowth and healing;

Special protection of sensitive areas;

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

Long term survival of the project;

Demonstration of success of private non-institutional approach;

Management principle - confidentiality.

Crucial for the protection of the privacy of nature and effectiveness and success of the project.

And the best protection method being the

elaboration of an adequate theory and principles to be used for as long as possible.

Successes / achievements:

‣ Successful reforestation programme: Largest project under law 20.283 in the region

‣ Rebound of the ecosystem (novel)

‣ Erosion control

‣ Infrastructure based on renewables

‣ Patchwork of carbon capture opportunities

‣ Return of endangered (huemul, puma) and migratory bird species

‣ Wetlands revival

‣ Compensation reserve, resilience pocket