The Nature Conservancy signs the largest conservation easment agreement in Chile
Written by Daniela Contreras
Thursday, 12 June 2014 08:57
Known as a conservation easement, a legal instrument which is both voluntary and binding, the agreement puts a third party in charge of permanently complying with the conservation of the Valdivian Coastal Reserve (VCR). A conservation easement is an instrument that is quite commonly used in other countries around the world to guarantee the conservation of private protected areas but, till now, is little known or used in Chile.
On May 14 of this year, The Nature Conservancy took a long stride towards guaranteeing the long-term conservation of 50 thousand hectares that make up the Valdivian Coastal Reserve (VCR) located in the boroughs of Corral and La Union in the Los Rios Region. On that date, TNC and FORECOS Foundation signed the largest conservation easement agreement in Chile. FORECOS will be the entity to guarantee that all the commitments are met and will also act as a figure internationally known as Land Conservation Trust.
Maryann Ramírez, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Conservation Manager explained that the agreement represented one of the most important milestones for the Valdivian Coastal Reserve project given that “ it is an instrument that will guarantee the permanent conservation of the area. It also means that although there might be a different owner of the place in a distant future, the Reserve cannot have a different aim or purpose other than the aim of protecting the existing natural patrimony. The novelty in this case is the incorporation of a Land Trust which will vouch for the compliance with this easement agreement”.
Alfredo Almonacid, VCR Manager and Coordinator, added that “it is an instrument that is signed in a public deed and it establishes the conditions and/or restrictions of use and of continuity of activities in the Reserve but it also matches closely our conservation objectives which have let us become and be considered one of the best examples of private conservation on a global scale. To maintain this important status, we must make all the necessary efforts and keep giving an example to the whole country of maximum protection of private areas of this type, making use of instruments such as the recently signed easement agreement.” Almonacid added that “ FORECOS is the organization that has decided to take on the challenge of accompanying us in the task of safekeeping the Valdivian Coastal Reserve. It is a local not for profit entity dedicated to research, and they share our vision and our conservation model that we have implemented in the Reserve. Thanks to their seriousness and technical capacities they can offer us the long-term guarantees of supervising the compliance with our aims”.
Christian Little, FORECOS Vice-president valued the initiative of the VC becoming a pioneer of the use of said instrument. “ We will be in charge of supervising and guaranteeing that the conservation restrictions are met through evaluations carried out every six months, annually and every five years using diverse monitoring methods. For us it is an important challenge, and we want to become a certified land trust on a global scale to replicate this model in other private protected areas ”, he said.
Antonio Lara, FORECOS President said that “ this easement agreement is the fruit of an intense interdisciplinary work with TNC and it will guarantee the conservation of the VCR as an emblematic protected area of the Valdivian Rain Forest echo - region. We hope to keep contributing to the development of other conservation easements permitting them to make use of this experience, learning and documents that, as they will remain in public domain, can be used by and for other conservation initiatives”.
In 2013, The Nature Conservancy signed an agreement with BHP Billiton to guarantee the permanent conservation of the Reserve and the signing of the conservation easement is an important step to consolidate this commitment.
How the easement works
The easement agreements works in the following way:
• It describes the natural or productive aspects that the owner wishes to keep permanently such as maintaining the vegetation or the native forest, the recreational uses, the habitat of certain species or sights; • It defines what the owner can do on the property, only when it is consistent with what is to be preserved; • It establishes what the owner definitively cannot do on the property; • It grants an organization the right to monitor the compliance with the terms set forth in the conservation easement document.