Activism

Conectividad Para Palena

 

Maps showing possible
routes of connectivity

Pumalín Park encompasses the rugged stretch of mountains and fjords where the Carretera Austral, Chile's "southern highway" has a 100-km gap in road connectivity. Ferry service currently allows vehicles to pass through this area, but for decades some Chilean politicians have dreamed of completing a land-only road connection to the south of the country. This steep, forested terrain poses an enormous challenge to road builders.

Many Chilean conservationists, including members of our team, have long argued for an alternative, coastal route to enhance motorized travel in Palena Province, instead of a costly, ecologically destructive interior route. A direct, coastal route road with well-run ferry service would link local communities and support tourism while costing taxpayers a small fraction of the cost to build an interior road through Pumalín Park.

While not abandoning the idea of completing an all-land highway at some point, the ministry of public works backed away from its insistence on the interior route in 2009. That shift was precipitated by a natural event as well as economic realities. Since its eruption, the Chaitén Volcano in the heart of Pumalín Park has spewed large amounts of ash across the region; the government's previously identified interior route would have built the highway right through the affected zone. The 2010 earthquake has also squeezed government budgets as reconstruction of vital transportation infrastructure in the central region of Chile takes top priority. The Palena connectivity campaign is committed continuing its advocacy for a coastal route highway on economic, ecological, and social grounds until the road is completed. For the latest news on the subject, visit the Conectividad Para Palena website.

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