Protecting Chile’s South-Central Coast - Waterkeeper

Protecting Chile’s South-Central Coast

By: Maule Itata Coastkeeper

Maule Itata Coastkeeper has been a member of Waterkeeper Alliance since 2008. Our watershed is located on the south-central coast of Chile and borders the Maule River to the north and the Itata River to the south, crossing two regions: Maule and Ñuble.

This area is one of great virtues, geared toward special interest tourism. However, there have also been pressures, threats, and victories that Maule Itata Coastkeeper together with the community have had to face, such as a coal powerplant project and a project of floating cages with factory salmon. Both were blocked after years of struggle and citizen mobilization. These efforts made it possible to protect and define sustainable tourism, with an emphasis on tradition, local culture, and biological conservation.

Today, in addition to permanent threats related to the forestry model and the pulp industry that affect communities and watercourses, we must face threats linked to climate change and real estate development.

Complaints are regularly received from residents of nearby communities regarding various situations. Our role in advising and/or helping to resolve through the protocol of responsible citizen complaints is as an environmental organization. We see it as one of the most important ways to maintain and strengthen the link with the community and municipalities. Anyone can reach out to Maule Itata Coastkeeper whenever there is a situation that directly or indirectly affects them in terms of pollution or environmental impact.

Along with observation monitoring programs and analysis of the quality of fresh or marine waters, there are also project initiatives with community participation. These include local and national campaigns for cleaning and restoring beaches and rivers. There are also collaborations with different local organizations, as well as artistic events within the framework of citizen campaigns forced to adapt to the context of the pandemic.

Despite a significant deficit related to the pandemic, we continue to operate as an organization and generate strategic alliances. We are also involved in designing comprehensive solution projects (NACE Project) that seek to meet the needs of access to quality water in areas of water scarcity.

The challenges are enormous, but so are the solutions: Independent and citizen monitoring and control, on the one hand, and a strategy of proposals based on nature’s solutions, on the other. There will always be threats or pressure, such as a personal lawsuit received by Rodrigo de la O, our executive director, by a real estate company that was affected by an observation. and exposure of a problem. The community itself expressed gratitude to the Maule Itata Coastkeeper for evidencing gaps in the regulation of land adjoining beaches or fiscal assets throughout the region that, added to changes in tidal behavior, make it impossible not to pay attention to responsible territorial planning and ordering.

Difficult times have forced many to reorient and redefine actions in the medium term that help the solvency and operability of the organization. Hopefully, this continues beyond the adversities, and there is agreement on the importance of being able to supervise social processes, especially those that highlight the importance of protecting the existing environmental and natural heritage.

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