Last week, Catalina Huidobro, CEO of Destinalo.com, messaged me on Twitter, asking if I would aid in their campaign to reforest Patagonia. Destinalo.com is a website that offers tourists, aspiring to vacation in Chile and Argentina, with opportunities for accommodation that is sustainable and comfortable.
Landscape, just like historical architecture and climate, is a powerfully attractive feature for people who love nature and being outdoors. Any major natural disaster, particularly forest fires, can mar a landscape for many years. I know this because I also live in a place that is, in many areas, densely forested, a feature for tourists all over North America, the world. So when Huidobro asked if I would volunteer to help the Reforest Patagonia campaign, I eagerly jumped on board.
I wanted to learn more about Patagonia and about this campaign, so I asked Huidobra if I could interview her. Our conversation is as follows.
DP: Tell me a little bit about Patagonia. Where in the world is it?
Patagonia is located in the southern end of South America, as a part of Chile and Argentina. The Chilean Patagonia is composed of 2 regions: Aysen to the north and Magallenes, to the south.
Furthermore, Patagonia is covered by 2 big ice masses: the southern ice field and the northern ice field; it houses many national parks ad reserves and the native species living in them.
DP: What is the historical/cultural significance of Patagonia’s landscape?
The Patagonian landscape is one of the most beautiful in the world, composed of islands, icebergs, glaciers, fjords, nature and mountain, all inhabited by endemic Chilean species. The area is filled with national parks and national reserves, being Torres del Paine and Laguna San Rafael the most famous.
Patagonia has always been among the most beautiful destinations in the world, with several protected natural areas that are visited by tourists all year and from all over the world. Plus, it is one of the most recognizable images of Chilean tourism.
DP: Why/how has Patagonia been deforested?
It is well known that, throughout the years, man has been responsible for the destruction of nature and beautiful landscapes like Patagonia. The area has suffered many fires that have contributed to its deforestation. The last one was in 2011; it started in National Park Torres del Paine but spread quickly and burned more than 42,500 acres of land.
The fire officially lasted 12 days, although some areas kept burning afterwards. This affected Torres del Paine National Park and Lago Carlota, Cerro Castillo and Laguna San Rafael National Reserves and resulted in the destruction of native species and natural habitats.
DP: What inspired you to start the Reforest Patagonia campaign?
After the fire in 2011, a nonprofit organization named Reforestemos Patagonia started planning the reforestation by offering to plant and take care of trees for $4, so anyone could help the cause.
We knew about the official campaign and had met some of the people involved in the project. As a website dedicated to creating social impact by offering and supporting sustainable, responsible and ecological tourism, we thought it would make sense to get involved in the cause.
On the other hand, we offer accommodations in Patagonia and have met the owners of these small businesses and they too are concerned about the deforestation and wished they could do more to help. Through our campaign alongside Reforestemos Patagonia we can also get them on board and make them feel they are useful to the cause.
DP: When did you start this campaign?
We started the campaign on February 19, 2013.
DP: What methods are you taking to accomplish the Reforest Patagonia campaign?
To help reforest Patagonia, we will plant 1 native tree for every 10 new users in our website www.destinalo.com. You just have to go to the site, create your account (completely free) and that’s it. You’ll be helping the cause.
We are also promoting this campaign through social media to reach as many people as possible, sharing information on the importance of reforestation and how to help.
DP: Do people have to travel to Patagonia in order to participate in this campaign?
No, they just need to create a free account on Destinalo.com and for every 10 people that do this, we’ll plant a tree.
DP: What advice will you give someone who aspires to participate in the planting of trees in Patagonia?
We want everyone to feel part of this campaign. Reforestemos Patagonia has been working nonstop to get people involved and we are doing what we can to help them as well. The best thing is that everyone can be a part of it!
DP: Where can people find out more about this campaign? ie, links, contact?