Environmental history of the Trapananda Archipelagos (Northern Patagonia, Chile): challenges for the conservation of the blue whale
Solari, María Eugenia
Skewes, Juan Carlos
The reappearance of the blue whale in southern Chile in 2003has meant a number challenges for national conservation policies. It is alsocreated an opportunity to re-think the history of the southern seas and thatof the Aysen coastline in particular. The social landscape of this coastlineis characterized by poverty and passage between two well known regionChiloe and Austral Patagonia. This is an extreme environment in whichinhabitants have developed a number of adaptive strategies linked to forestand marine systems. These strategies are well documented in the historical,archaeological and ethnographic records which we will gather in order toreconstruct the environmental history of the region. Archaeo-historical recordsevidenced canoes were vital for the first inhabitants of this area. Theirrelationship with nature was based on the extensive used of resources whichin turn facilitated their integration to the local landscape characterized bythe abundance of archipelagos. This relationship was modified after a numberof historical processes unchained after the inclusion of this area to thenational economy plans. These processes promoted continuous waves ofsettlement into the region, mainly to the coastline of Aysen, modifying thetraditional adaptive strategies and promoting an intensive and abusive usedof this intrinsically labile and non-renewable landscape. The opportunity tocompile the environmental history of this area and contribute to its protectionalong with the blue whale is the challenge we present here.