Tupungato National Park
The proposed area for Tupungato National Park is in the Andean High Steppe and a subregion of the Mediterranean Andes. This delicate region is under-represented in the National System of Protected Areas within Chile.
The area is 350,889 acres, with an additional 41,464 acres that will be eventually included, making a total of 392,353 protected acres. It is located only 43 miles from the heart of Santiago, Chile and easily accessible from all sides of the city.
This is the last region of diverse biodiversity that could stay in public hands, and create something incredible for Chileans as well as people from all around the world to come enjoy the beauties of nature and promote educational conservation for new generations
Why the name Tupungato?
Tupungato means “Star Viewpoint” in the native Huarpe tongue. The area where the park is being proposed was inhabited by the Chiquillanes, which were people who lived in the Andes Mountain Range from modern day Los Andes to Rancagua. From their appearance, it is known that they were tall and thin, covered their skin with animal fat and adorned it with blue paints. In summer they crossed the mountain range to exchange merchandise with the Mapuches. The Chiquillanes were a nomadic tribe that traveled in groups smaller than 100, this allowed them to travel more efficiently as the seasons changed. In 1545 when the Spanish came to colonize Chile, the Chiquillanes were said to be the first to confront them. They were destroyed and forced to live in parcels, far away from the mountains.
What are we conserving?
There are over 45,000 acres that are glaciated, making this the largest public freshwater reserve holding over 50% of the water for the central part of Chile. Over 9,000,000 people live in this area and are dependent on this water source.
Chile has the largest reserves of glacial-systems in all of Latin America, with around 80% of the bodies of glaciers, almost 4% of the worldwide ice coverage.
We will be protecting over 300 glaciers which have already shrunk by 1/3 of their size in the last 50 years due to climate change, mining, and pollution.
Interestingly enough the glaciers are under the protection of the Commission of Mining and Energy, on the other hand in Argentina a law just passed that prohibits any mining intervention on its glaciers. Glaciers are a component of the cryosphere, a fundamental Earth subsystem for life on the planet, composed of all those regions where water is in a solid form. These ice bodies feed most of the territory's watersheds, especially in those periods where there is no rainfall.
Tupungato National Park would protect and create habitat for over 400 species of flora and fauna unique to this region. A large majority are endemic, and many are on the edge of extinction. The Guanaco is currently being reintroduced into the area, where it plays a role as a keystone species along with the Andean Condor and the Puma.
What we are up against?
There already is mining, tunnels (over 44miles) and hydroelectric in the border and inside of the proposed national park area, we want to avoid the easy spread of all these multinational billion dollar companies from expanding illegally even further into this last public area of central Chile. As of right now the land is in the hands of the Ministry of National Assets, which is a positive and negative, this is due to the fact that the Ministry of Mining and other businessmen influence and strong-arm certain politicians into giving them what they want, which in this case would be the 350,000acres of endangered land. There are also multiple sites where ancient tribes lived that have been destroyed by the mining operations. Currently mining operations like Anglo American, BHP, Codelco, Cementos BioBio, Luksic Group and others are trying to expand in this area, where they will dry the remaining rivers, destroy the remaining glaciers and finally achieve their goal of polluting and destroying everything.
There have been cases in the surrounding small towns of the proposed national park area with a high concentration of lead, molybdenum and arsenic among others, that significantly exceed the standards allowed by the World Health Organization (WHO). Izkia Siches, president of the Regional Medical College, details that the effects of heavy metals are very diverse, since some have to do with oncological diseases, that is, there are genes that are altered and send signals to the cells so that they don't replicate and after a while they die. These pathologies are those that cause cancer, Siches says.
There are infinite reasons why this area should be created into a national park and only 2 that go against it, greed and corruption. This area will build a positive consciousness on all its visitors to have a relationship with nature, this is a subliminal educational experience for those to appreciate what we live next to. As well as have a consistent long term economic benefit for the country with a boost in tourism to the country. As well as jobs for the local communities who have been taken advantage of by the mining and hydroelectric corporations. Let’s not forget the conservation and preservation of water for over 9,000,000 people and the obvious benefits for the flora, fauna and Andes Mountain Range.