Our Projects

The Legacy Fund provides financial and technical assistance for projects that contribute to one or more of our four main objectives:

  • Preserve and restore ecosystems
  • Improve tourism infrastructure and mitigate visitor impacts
  • Promote community development
  • Diversify recreation opportunities and tourism products

Current Projects

  • Preserving and restoring ecosystems
    • Reforestation in Torres del Paine

      Reforestation in Torres del Paine

      Restoring and protecting Torres del Paine’s fragile ecosystems in the wake of devastating man-made fires..

      An increasing number of visitors unfortunately also tends to increase the likelihood of human error and negligence when exploring the great outdoors. In Torres del Paine, these conditions have combined with Patagonia’s notorious high winds to generate three large man-made fires since 1985, all started by tourists. These infernos ravaged almost 1/5th of the park’s area, including ~45,000 ha of native lenga tree forests (Nothofagus pumilio), home to numerous endemic species, such as the endangered huemul deer (Hippocamelus bisculus), that are now facing drastically reduced and altered habitats.

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  • Improving tourism infrastructure and minimizing visitor impacts
    • Torres del Paine Trail Boardwalk Construction

      Trail Restoration in Torres del Paine

      Caring for Torres del Paine’s world renowned hiking trails to mitigate further environmental impacts.

      Torres del Paine National Park is a trekker’s paradise. Hiking the world renowned W and O circuits is a must for any traveler to the region, providing some of the most incredible and iconic views that Southern Patagonia has to offer.

      In high season, these routes can receive more than 15,000 passes per month. Such intensive use has resulted in overcrowding and degradation of these iconic treks, as visitors create destructive side trails that impact ecologically sensitive habitat. The park’s relentless, harsh weather combined with disproportionate human and financial resources further accelerates trail deterioration and its consequent negative effects on the recreational experience and adjacent flora and fauna.

      Under a formal collaboration agreement with CONAF, Chile’s national parks administrator, and together with Conservation VIP, the Legacy Fund provides technical and financial assistance for restoring, maintaining, and constructing trails within the Park. These projects include training in basic trail maintenance and construction principles for park rangers and local volunteers, building local capacity and a growing community of conservation advocates and park supporters. Investing $38,215 in in-kind and financial donations from our dedicated business partners, to date this collaborative effort has resulted in:

      • 200m of new or restored boardwalk in wetland areas of the park
      • A new 56m suspension bridge along the O circuit
      • 88 water bars installed to control water damage and erosion
      • 3.5km of new trail constructed between Paine Grande and Italiano camps along the W
      • 5246 man hours contributed by volunteers and park rangers
      • An ever growing community of responsible businesses, residents, and travelers committed to leaving the park better than they found it!

      We need your help to ensure these park improvements can continue. Given our dedicated volunteers, with just $2 we can construct one meter of new trail. Please consider making a donation to support our continued efforts. Or, if you’re a local business that relies on the Park, we also welcome in-kind contributions of tools, materials, equipment, or room and board.

      Torres del Paine Trail Restoration Torres del Paine Trail Restoration
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    • Torres del Paine Base Torres

      Restoring the Base Torres Trail

      The most popular of Torres del Paine’s trekking routes is the Base Torres trail. And for good reason. After traversing through plunging valleys and rocky slopes, adventurers are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the park’s centerpiece - the “Towers of Paine." These three iconic granite spires tower high above a turquoise lagoon at the crest of the trail.

      During high season, the Base Torres trail can receive 1,000 hikers in a single day. This heavy foot traffic, causes significant wear and tear on the trail. As a result, the Base Torres trail is now severely eroded. Other factors, including the harsh climate, steep grades, and poor trail alignment only exacerbate these impacts.

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  • Promoting community development
    • Torres del Paine Recycling Project

      Puerto Natales Recycling

      Establishing and expanding the first city-wide recycling program.

      As the gateway to Torres del Paine, the town of Puerto Natales, home to just over 20,000 residents, receives well over half of the Park’s 252,000 annual visitors. While tourism propels strong economic growth, infrastructure has struggled to keep pace with surging arrivals and the waste they generate.

      The negative environmental effects associated with poor waste management practices are well documented, not to mention the potential economic harm to a destination prized for its pristine nature. However until 2016, recycling in Puerto Natales was limited to a few dedicated tourism businesses that collectively shipped their recyclable materials over 2,000 kilometers north to be processed in Puerto Montt. While the municipality took over management of this program in 2014, it was not until 2016 that the first municipal recycling system was established in Puerto Natales with the assistance of the Torres del Paine Legacy Fund.

      In 2015 the Legacy Fund donated $6,000 for the purchase of 15 containers for plastics and aluminum recycling which were installed in 2016 at plazas and schools throughout the city. With the addition of subterranean containers purchased by the Municipality, Puerto Natales now boasts a total of 14 puntos verdes for plastics and aluminum recycling that are collected on a weekly basis. After only a year of implementation, Puerto Natales has experienced a 600% increase in recycling, diverting almost 250,000 kg of waste from the city’s already overcrowded landfill.

      Recycled Material in Puerto Natales Graph

      New Recycling Bin in Puerto Natales Puerto Natales Recycling Project Puerto Natales Recycling Project
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    • Kawesqar Handicrafts

      Kawésqar Community Tourism & Cultural Center

      Developing a community-run cultural center to celebrate the forgotten heritage of Magallanes’ indigenous people.

      While best known for its iconic glaciers and peaks, Torres del Paine and its gateway community of Puerto Natales also possess a rich cultural heritage. Much of this heritage is rooted in the history and traditions of the region’s indigenous people - the Kawésqar. A seafaring, nomadic people, the Kawésqar were among the first inhabitants of southern Chile’s channels and fjords. Today, only 13 Kawésqar communities remain across the Magallanes region.

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  • Diversifying recreation opportunities and tourism products
    • Torres del Paine Cultural Center of Art and Gastronomy in Puerto Natales

      Galpón Cultural Center

      El Galpón Cultural Center is the first ever local arts and cultural events venue in Puerto Natales.

      Overlooking the Golfo Almirante Montt, the Galpón is located in the historic Braun-Blanchard warehouse. In 1919, local leaders gathered here to orchestrate the “Worker’s Revolt in Puerto Bories and Puerto Natales” - a meeting that would ignite the 1920’s Patagonian Rebellion.

      Since that time the building has served many purposes. Now, almost a century later, it hosts the city’s first community arts and cultural events center, celebrating artists from across Magallanes.

      The Galpón is curated by Marcela Romagnoli, a Chilean sculptor known for her work including a sculpture of two people swinging in the wind on the Puerto Natales coastline, titled “Amantes de Viento en Natales.” Upon returning to Puerto Natales in 2014, Marcela was inspired to transform the empty warehouse into a new cultural asset for the community.

      With the assistance of Fundación Patagonia, the Galpón was renovated and donated works from seven Chilean artists were featured in its grand opening in December 2014, supported by the Legacy Fund. The space has since hosted 10 exhibits and symposia, hosts theater, music and dance performances and is home to local sustainable wool boutique Le Mouton Vert, Make sure you stop by and visit when you’re in Natales!

      Torres del Paine Cultural and Arts Center
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Are you interested in having your project supported by the Legacy Fund?

The Legacy Fund selects projects proposed and managed by local stakeholders that generate positive social and environmental impacts in Torres del Paine and Puerto Natales.

If you have an idea for a project that you feel will improve Ultima Esperanza, please review our project guidelines and submit an application.

Projects

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