Perilous Patagonia In Peril

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It has been some weeks since returning from the Argentine-side of the Patagonian region. I was affected by its immensity and beauty. To be quite honest, I find the experience hard to put into words — which is the reason I have not written extensively on it.

From Bruce Chatwin to a little Canadian lady, most people that venture into Patagonia end up falling in love with the place. Perhaps it´s the people, the clean air, or the sense that you have seen the closest thing to the end of the world. No matter what happens, people are moved.

I heard from someone — quite possibly a Chilean — that the Chilean Patagonia is much more beautiful because of its impressive terrain. After reading an article in the Montreal Gazette, I get the sense that this is true.

In his article, Mark Angelo describes the condors floating on thermal currents, the glistening pampas and precipitous peaks of the Andes. As he states, ¨[t]he beauty of Patagonia can be captivating, and it’s a place where nature shows a flair for the grandiose.¨ I couldn´t agree more — and neither can a lot of tourists.

Since the eco-tourism boom, Patagonia has become, as Angelo defines, the tourist´s next ¨edge destination,¨ all due to its immensity and remoteness. However, the scenery is not the only thing attracting international attention.

Along with its natural flair to impress comes the exploitation of ¨renewable resources.¨ Heartbreakingly, the Patagonian region has become the target for hydroelectric dams, a subject explored by an article in National Geographic.

The major concern for environmentalists worldwide is the lack of protection for the Patagonian waters that are privately owned since the Pinochet regime. As a result, the landsacape is rapidly changing mostly from the alterations of water sources for dam projects and the waste produced by salmon farms.

Nevertheless, both articles hope for a change as a result of increasing international interest in protecting Patagonia. Hopefully, by the time this protection is in place, it won´t be too late.

By Brit Weaver


About the Author

Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog,

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