ENVIRONMENTAL COASTKEEPER TO PROTECT SOUTHERN CHILE WATERS

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Published On : Thu, Nov 27th, 2008
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A stretch of southern Chilean coastline is now under the watchful eye of an environmental coastkeeper. Rodrigo de la O, the newly appointed head of the Maule Coastkeeper program, is charged with making sure the Pacific coastline between Region VII’s Maule River and Region VIII’s Itata River does not fall victim to industrial waste or other environmental threats.
 
ocean
 
Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Linfati
 

The Maule Coastkeeper program is one of over 180 initiatives worldwide coordinated by the Waterkeeper Alliance, a U.S.-based organization aiming to help communities keep their water clean. Collaborating with the effort – Waterkeeper’s first in Chile – is the environmental monitoring law group FIMA, a private Chilean nonprofit focused on strengthening and expanding Chilean environmental policy.

Although the coastal waters between the Maule and Itata Rivers are still relatively clean, said de la O, they are being threatened. He said large industries are operating in the area, including forestry plants that have operated “without permanent supervision” for many years. He added that a company plans to build a thermoelectric plant nearby, as well.

De la O said the Maule Coastkeeper program will protect the local coastline through education, activism, legal work and scientific research. He said program participants are outreaching to universities, institutes, agencies and professionals in order to build stronger alliances.

Other important collaborators will come from local communities themselves, said de la O. He said the Maule Coastkeeper program hopes to cooperate with and support local residents who wish to carry out their own water-protection initiatives.

In addition to observing the coastline each day, de la O will help implement a process through which local residents can report on the state of the waters. One of the reasons protecting coastal waters in the area is so important, he said, is the fact that the zone’s natural beauty gives it great tourism potential.

Maule Coastkeeper plans will officially open its office in Curanipe, where de la O lives, in early 2009. Meanwhile, program participants have been paving the way by meeting with local leaders and community members to discuss future projects.

By Leigh Shadko (editor@santiagotimes.cl)

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The Santiago Times Team