Sustainable Trails in Cochamó Valley, Chilean Patagonia

Source International ONLUS provides scientific and technical assistance and training to communities who will use it to protect the environments in which they live, aiming to empower communities that live in the most polluted places on earth.

With 1000-metre granite walls, crystal-clear waters, and thousand-year old Alerce trees, Cochamó is known as “the Yosemite of South America.” However, unlike Yosemite, Cochamó is not a national park, and hence has no official protection from the harmful effects of tourism, or large scale industrial projects. Thousands of people visit annually, and heavy use of the main access trail—featuring knee-deep mud in places—has caused significant braiding, severe erosion, and pollution of the Cochamó river. Together with the local community, Source International will repair 12 km of trail, installing durable structures, and establishing restoration areas where necessary. The project will provide compensation to local community members for their trailwork and expertise, and create informational panels to educate visitors on good stewardship. Finally, it will work to bolster the efforts of local NGOs to secure Nature Sanctuary status—a powerful conservation designation in Chile—for the entire Cochamó valley.