Chile moves to protect more wetlands
Chile is set to pass a significant landmark this week by increasing the amount of country's wetlands that are officially protected.
The country is home to some of the most fascinating and diverse natural environments on earth, including hundreds of square miles of rare wetlands which have been attracting those on trips to South America for decades.
Currently, 494,210 acres of Chilean swamps, lakes, bogs and highlands are officially recognised and protected under the international Ramsar Convention - a treaty which requires its members to preserve the ecological character of wetlands of international importance.
But now, ahead of International Wetlands Day on February 2nd, Chilean authorities are applying to have sections of Chiloe National Park recognised by Ramsar, reports the Santiago Times.
Significantly, if successful, Chile would surpass 500,000 acres of protected wetlands.
Located in the Los Lagos Region of Chile, the Chiloe National Park encompasses an area of around 430 square km and is home to sand dunes rain forest, swamps and peat bogs.
"[Ramsar recognition] is important to maintain the characteristics of these sites for the purpose of ecological safekeeping, along with securing financial backing for projects involving these sites in the future," the Santiago Times quotes Catalina Zamorano of Chile's National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) as telling Spanish-language publication La Tercera.
CONAF and Chile's tourism body will hold a number of activities to mark International Wetlands Day intended to promote a greater understanding of the significance of these areas.
A key focus will be encouraging tourists, particularly mountaineers, to visit the Santa Rosa Lagoon at the Nevado Tres Cruces National Park.
The lagoon is situated at 3,800 feet above sea level and is surrounded by highland salt flats, home to flamingos, foxes and other fauna.
It is just one of 12 wetland areas in Chile currently recognised by Ramsar.