Defending and conserving the territories of Cochamó Valley, its forests, its rivers, flor and fauna and cultural heritage date back decades. But one of its biggest threats came in 2009. The non-governmental organization Conservación Cochamó (2009-2012) faced a mega hydroelectric project that aimed to exploit the entire valley and its main tributaries. This group's efforts and bringing the community together finally convinced President Bachelet to create a decree preserving the waters of Cochamó Valley's river basin.
Yet after this milestone, the threats to the Cochamó and Puelo rivers never stopped. Today, powerful businessmen with real estate, hydroelectric power plant projects and mining interests continue trying to intervene in these places of unique beauty and high conservation value.
Cochamó Valley consists of 8 thousand hectares of larch, endemic species of both flora and fauna. These include Darwin's frog, Patagonian vizcachas, huemules, pumas and other rare species of the temperate Valdivian forest.
That is why, in 2017, many of Conservación Cochamó's members joined with other members of Puelo Patagonia, new actors, owners, tour operators, friends and foreign collaborators to create the Cochamó Valley Organization, or Organización Valle Cochamó. They have aimed to develop responsible and sustainable tourism, create a protected, collaborative and voluntary area for the conservation of the natural and preserve cultural heritage of this international destination. Also in the USA, the Friends of Cochamó organization was created, comprised of climbers with a strong desire to help with conservation efforts.
We must act with urgency to protect this place. The efforts that are required are enormous. Considering the current threat of road construction by the same investors who destroyed the forests just south of the Cochamó Valley in the Manso River Valley, this is today's biggest threat to the community and the area's ecology.
This place is known as the Yosemite of South America. It's an unjustified comparison when considering what is actually being done in regards to conservation. It's precisely what we do not want to happen. Just imagine the valley with traffic jams and parking lots.
Today with the pandemic upon us, it has been demonstrated more than ever, that nature can restore and conserve itself, especially in places as pristine and rick in ancestral gaucho culture as the Cochamó Valley. The construction of a road, the traditions of these horseman will severely impact their means of income and way of life. Without this 200-year-old trail, Cochamó's cultural heritage could be finished. And the ecological impact would be catastrophic.
That is why we need your help in protecting this place, we are all responsible for continuing to have a free, healthy and preserved Cochamó Valley for future generations.