Geopark Kutralkura: the first Chilean Geopark
‘UNESCO Global Geoparks are single, unified geographical areas where sites and landscapes of international geological significance are managed with a holistic concept of protection, education and sustainable development. A UNESCO Global Geopark uses its geological heritage, in connection with all other aspects of the area’s natural and cultural heritage, to enhance awareness and understanding of key issues facing society, such as using our earth’s resources sustainably, mitigating the effects of climate change and reducing natural disasters-related risks. By raising awareness of the importance of the area’s geological heritage in history and society today, UNESCO Global Geoparks give local people a sense of pride in their region and strengthen their identification with the area. The creation of innovative local enterprises, new jobs and high quality training courses is stimulated as new sources of revenue are generated through geotourism, while the geological resources of the area are protected.’
‘Kutralcura Geopark located in the Araucanía region, aims to contribute to social, cultural and economic development of the territory, coinciding with the communes of Melipeuco, Vilcún, Caracautin and Lonquimay.
In the center of this first Geopark, Conguillío National Park, where the Llaima volcano is, which is one of the busiest in South America is located. This area contains a total of six protected areas, five volcanoes, and great geodiversity, with different types of landscapes and geological history spanning the last 250 million years. This area is also part of the Biosphere Reserve Araucaria with high biodiversity globally recognized, and its inhabitants are many Mapuche communities – Pehuenches having their own world, which highlight the divine nature of volcanoes and knowledge related to use of medicinal plants.
It is expected that the Geopark Kitralcura achieve the objective of improving the quality of life of its inhabitants, contributes to the dissemination of Earth science at local, regional and national levels, and consequently encourage the establishment of new Geoparks in the country. In this territory, the active volcanoes are a major tourist attraction, and considering its very active, need for local communities and visitors are well informed about the associated risks, and mitigation and emergency response to potential outbreaks.
The creation of this first Geopark in Chile, is an initiative developed by the National Service of Geology and Mining (SERNAGEOMIN), in partnership with the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), the Regional Government of the Araucanía, Chile Innova Development Corporation of Production (CORFO), the National Tourism Service (SERNATUR), National Corporation for the Environment (CONAMA), the Group Nuke Mapu mountain, and the municipalities of Melipeuco, Vilcún, Caracautin and Lonquimay.’