The President of the State Defense Council, Juan Peribonio Poduje, visited the Paleontological Park of Caldera today. The park is the heart of a highly precious area for scientific fossil studies in Caldera which is going to be preserved from now on; a dream coming true for Atacama’s people.
The resolute action of the local community, the Regional Government, representatives of the scientific and academic world, along with the State Defense Council, the National Monument Council and the Municipality of Caldera allow to stop the destruction of fossil deposits caused by extractive mining operations and to promote scientific research so as to turn the area in a center for educational, cultural and economic development.
The agreement signed on January between the State of Chile and Compañía Minera de Fosfatos Naturales Ltda. and approved August 2020 protects a 2,500-hectare area and comprises the execution of a set of actions to mend the paleontological damage caused by the extraction works, including a compensation of one million dollars to the Chilean Treasury which will be invested in the creation and launching of the Research and Advancement Corporation for Atacama’s Paleontology and Natural History (CIAHN Atacama), a private non-profit entity aimed at the protection, conservation, research, spreading and value-adding of the regional patrimony.
The plan excludes any mining activity within a 2,516-hectare sector to preserve the wealthiest area of the deposit and includes an annual compensation fund of 250,000 dollars which the respondent societies must grant for research and value-adding of assets and new pieces found through the project progress. As well, the mining operations will be monitored by experts on paleontology so as to reduce as much as possible the impact over the patrimony.
Mr. Peribonio highlighted that “the actions taken by the Organism through these 15 years allowed ensuring that the compensation measures and funds go to the protection of the local paleontological patrimony and its scientific, economic and cultural development and whose study will have international echo.”
In that sense, the President of the State Defense Council said that “the launching of the corporation and its valuable further work actually fulfills the purpose of the State to actually repair the environmental damage, ensuring the compensation funds has the best use possible for the benefit of the regional community.”
“It is necessary to continue the effort and path traced over these years by state, private and civil entities and individuals, which now allow the materialization of this significant regional dream”, said Mr. Peribonio. Accordingly, he stressed that “the organization became early aware about the lawsuit filed by the paleontologist Pablo Quilodrán and together with the Council for National Monuments, he looked for a compensation for the damage caused; and finally reached the signing of a judicial agreement which greatly benefits Atacama.”
To finish, the State Defense Council President acknowledge the labor of his representatives in Copiapó, in particular by the former authority, Mrs. María Eugenia Manaud, which along with the counselor Raúl Letelier and the Environmental Committee, dedicated to this case which is currently in force and provides future generations with a conservation zone to develop scientific research and knowledge”.
CIAHN Atacama will develop a set of initiatives including a Natural History research center, a dossier with Caldera’s patrimony record to apply for the Unesco Global Network of Geoparks, and a new building for the paleontological museum.