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A 360° Approach to the Conceptualization of Protected Area Visitor Use Planning within the Aysén Region of Chilean Patagonia

Trace Gale, Andrés Adiego, Andrea Ednie

Abstract


Chile’s National System of Protected Areas (SNASPE) has experienced exponential visitor growth during recent years, and this growth has been especially pronounced in the more remote units of the country. One catalyst for this growth is Chile’s ongoing national policy development geared toward integration of rural and peripheral zones, labeled as extreme, with more developed, urban centers in the central region (Correa Vera, 2012; Ministry of the Interior, 1999, 2008, 2011). Special development plans and funding packages designated for extreme zones have helped accelerate the implementation of center-periphery policy, injecting significant resources into infrastructure and capacity building projects (Bachelet, 2016; Gobierno Regional de Aysén, 2014; Hamamé Villablanca, 2017).

The Aysén region, situated 1,650 kilometers (1,025 miles) south of Santiago in the iconic area of Patagonia, is designated as one of Chile’s extreme zones. While naturebased tourism development is an appealing prospect at both the regional and national levels, many local and regional planners warn that nature-based tourism development is not automatically sustainable. Recently, Aysén’s Special Development Plan for Extreme Zones (PEDZE) funded an initiative to develop visitor use plans for several of the protected areas within the Aysén region. The funding was to revamp and apply the Chilean National Forestry Corporation’s (CONAF) national visitor use planning model, which became an adaptation of the Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) Open Standards framework, suited to accommodate local context, integrate the vision, priorities, and resources of local communities, and better prepare protected areas for rapidly changing conditions. This paper examines the application and adaptation of the national visitor planning model’s initial phases (conceptualization and planning) in the contexts of three protected areas within the Aysén region. The study demonstrates the process of adapting the method to three local contexts emphasizing a 360° approach to developing plans that fit and support the region’s needs. The discussion identifies important strengths and weaknesses of this 360° approach and lessons learned from carrying out robust planning processes within a very short window of time.

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Keywords


Aysén; center-periphery integration; Chile; extreme zones; open standards conservation framework; periphery zones; protected areas; recreation opportunity spectrum; visitor management; visitor use planning

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18666/JPRA-2018-V36-I3-8371

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