Océano Pacífico, XI Región de Aysén.

The Aysén Region of General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo occupies an área of 110,000 km2 and, according to the National Institute of Statistics it population projected by 2015 is around 108,328 people, representing the least populated region of the country.

Its geographic and climatic diversity, from the steppe of the eastern side of the Andes to the lush vegetative climate of the Pacific Ocean, endows this region with a unique biodiversity “that includes unique species, exclusive to the región, that inhabit the arid Andean hinterland, to the coastal evergreen forests “.

The Aysen Region is characterized by extensive virgin forests, glaciers, fjords, archipelagos and sheltered costal passageways. It has the largest native forest area in the country: 4.4 million hectares, one third of the national total.

Aysén Region Map.

In addition, because it includes the Northern Ice Field and a sizable part of the Southern Ice Field, the area possesses one of the main freshwater reserves on the planet: 18,000 km2, comprising one of the most significant areas of continental waters on Earth. Almost one-third of the surface of lakes (General Carrera is the second largest in South America) and the volume of the continent’s rivers (the Baker river is the largest in Chile), representing not only a “life insurance” for Chile but for humanity as a whole.

In the adjacent coastal area, the Aysen Region hosts more than a third of the cetaceous species found on the planet, including areas that are essential for the survival of the blue whale and various other endangered marine species.

All this has led to the Aysen Region being nominated as a candidate for a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To directly observe its daily life, its abundance of natural treasures, its diversity and beauty, makes it impossible not to be sensitized by its value and precarious state and to the cause of its protection and preservation.

Because of the Aysen Region’s geographic isolation, it’s towns and the people that inhabit them are palpably different from those of Northern Chile. A different land, with a different people. They have become hardened by the day-to-day struggle against the elements, due to their lack of connectivity, rebellious geography and extreme climate. For some a misfortune, for many others, a blessing. A blessing that corroborates the exceptionality of Aysén, and carries the responsibility of taking care of this land.

By Patricio Segura Ortiz

Journalist Aysén