Patagonia wilderness. Photo by: magical-world

Conservacion Patagonica Protests HidroAysén

San Francisco Sustainability Activism
by Abbie Mood May 18, 2011
This Friday and Saturday May 20th and 21st huge protests are expected all over Chile in response to the recent approval of the largest hydroelectric project in Chile’s history. Conservacion Patagonica is organizing a protest at the Chilean embassy in San Francisco on May 20 to encourage the Chilean government to respect it’s people and call off HidroAysén.

CONSERVACION PATAGONICA’S event in San Francisco is on Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Consulate General of Chile in San Francisco, 870 Market St., San Francisco, CA. It’s near the Powell Street Bart station. For more information or to RSVP, visit the Facebook event page.

What people are protesting

The dam project will forever alter some of the world’s last areas of truly pristine wilderness, impacting 6 national parks, 11 national reserves, 12 important conservation sites, and 16 wetlands.

In addition to 5 dams, the project consists of clear cutting 1,400 miles (one of the longest in history) for transmission lines, most of which is virgin forest, as well as being seismically active. According to International Rivers, a group who reviewed HidroAysén environmental study, there was not even an attempt to describe the “potentials risks that could lead to catastrophic loss of life in the areas where the dams and related structures would be located.”

Besides the extreme damage that would occur in the Patagonian wilderness, it appears that HidroAysén either didn’t consider or didn’t care about the potential effect on the people in the area, not only the families who would need to be relocated, but the general population, of which 61% disagreed originally with the project, and now estimates are up to 74%.

Conservacion Patagonica was created in 2000 by Kristine Thompkins, longtime CEO of the clothing company, Patagonia. Kristine has been living and working on conservation projects in South America for two decades. Conservacion Patagonica is a non-profit based in California, with a mission to protect Patagonia’s wildlife and ecosystems. They have since focused on building new national parks in Chile and Argentina. Their biggest project is creating the Patagonia National Park, and are just a year away from opening the park to the public.

Community Connection:

For more information, check out the recent article, 11 disgusting facts about a massive dam project just approved in Chile. It’s written by Matador’s David Miller, who lives on the Argentina side of Patagonia and has visited the Chilean Patagonia.

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