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Hamilton College

Publication Date

Spring 2019

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


This study examines a budding effort to establish an ecological reservation in the commune of Curarrehue, in the south-central Chilean region of the Araucanía. The study looks to explain the nature of the project, elaborating on the local context from which it originates. Engaging with modern theory on the current state of wilderness conservation in Chile, this study examines the effort to establish this reserve through a theoretical lens of wilderness conservation executed with local culture and current human physical impact in mind. Underneath this theory, the study uncovers and develops the motivations behind this effort to establish a reserve before assessing some of the potential challenges this effort may face in the path to realization. The research is based on previous literature in addition to on-site research involving active observation, interviews with municipality officials and extended guidance from the project’s founder. The study finds that the central motivating factor for the reserve is introducing a system of conservation to prevent large-scale ecological intervention, which is more closely connected to the theme of local resources than it is the actual concept of conservation for the sake of ecological preservation. Secondly, it finds that the motivations are also very closely align with local cultural heritage. Among the challenges that this project will face, as revealed by this study, is controversy over the role of tourism and defining a system through which the program developers can involve and disseminate information about the project to the community. These findings are in and keeping with the theoretical framework that states the unavoidable interconnection of humanity and natural spaces, but the results of the study call for deeper research as the project to establish the reserve develops.


Environmental Policy | Environmental Studies | Human Ecology | Latin American Studies | Natural Resources and Conservation | Place and Environment | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sustainability


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