“Walking between science and culture”: Copas Coastal is implementing an unprecedented project in the far south of Chile

Many of us have at some point heard of Caleta Tortel, a town located in the southern region, built on a network of lanes, whose unique architecture and unique character in the world led to it being declared an exemplary and scenic area by the National Security Council. Monuments, and was recently chosen as one of the best new tourist cities by the World Tourism Organization, being one of 54 cities around the world that recently received this distinction. Located in a steep terrain and accompanied by a beautiful landscape, there are no streets as we know them, but rather the city is built along paths made of Guaitecas cypress, a characteristic species of the region.

Considered one of the most beautiful places in Patagonia, surrounded by glaciers, fjords and lush vegetation, Tortil today receives an unprecedented project in the region that seeks to accumulate the wealth of this city: it Environmental and Tourism Interpretation Center (CIayT), an initiative implemented by the Center for Oceanographic Research Coastal cups From the University of Concepcion through its project “Walking between Science and Culture”, which provides the Tortellina community and its visitors with a space that combines science, education and history.

The initiative, which will be inaugurated on Thursday, January 11, 2024 at 11:00 a.m. in Kwaskar Square in the municipality, has a large community character and its goal is to disseminate scientific information and knowledge related to fjords, estuaries and lakes, and give them a social character. The glaciers, flora and fauna of Patagonia also contribute to local and regional sustainable tourism, by designing an immersive, entertaining, educational, comprehensive and unforgettable experience in Tortil and the Glacier Province in the Aysen Region of Chile.

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The project and its development

he Environmental and Tourism Interpretation Center It has been two years of development, which was not without challenges, considering that it is located in an extreme area of ​​our country. Different ideas and specializations, as well as the support of different institutions, have been combined to form the thematic stations that are part of this centre. Along the 47-meter promenade, which was reconstructed for this project by the first municipality of Tourtil, there are five stations, four of which are covered by two fine wood pergolas with original wooden panels, a structure that combines the square/pergola construction style of that city, thus preserving the architectural character For the region.

CIAyT unites the Turtil House of Culture and the COPAS Coastal Oceanographic Laboratory of the U. de Concepción University and starts with the “Living among ice and tides” station, which provides description and data about the municipality of Turtil and its surroundings. . “Coexistence with the Fjords, a Privilege for the Few” is the second station, which then gives way to the “Biodiversity” station, which provides guidance on the characteristics and life cycles of the different species that live in the area. The fourth station, “Tortellina Culture Landmarks: The human race comes to live among the ice,” tells the history of the Gulf and the city’s traditions and ancestors, and highlights its origins, culture, and coexistence with the environment, supported by a timeline with figures carved in cypress wood. The tour ends with the fifth stop, which provides information about the oceanographic laboratory that the COPAS Coastal Center has established in the aforementioned city since 2008, and through which it has conducted science in extreme areas over the years.

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According to the project manager, Silvio Pantoja, this event was created with the aim of transferring knowledge to society in general. “This is an interdisciplinary project, in which the views and opinions of the residents of Tortil are expressed, which is very important for us,” said the researcher, who also thanked the residents and authorities of the area for receiving them and being an important part of this initiative.

The initiative’s alternate director, Mitzi Acevedo, pointed out that “science acquires a special meaning when the results of research are able to serve society and respond to some of its needs.” This is what we want to contribute to the place that welcomed us in our research; “Transferring knowledge to residents so they feel more empowered about where they live, as well as providing answers to tourists who come to the cove.” It should be noted that the most important sector in Tortil is tourism, so this environmental interpretation center is also a space that forms part of the tours offered to visitors by various tourist centers, in addition to being used in activities for school children from the Gulf.

As Dr. Pantoja pointed out, this project requires significant participation from the residents of Tortil. For this, workshops were held for school children, residents and tourism operators on the scientific knowledge developed by the COPAS Center over the past 15 years, on topics such as ecology, marine biology, oceanography, geomorphology, biocultural aspects and the impact of climate change in Patagonia. The purpose of community participation in the entire process was to enhance the regional empowerment of the community and the sustainability of the project over time, as it involves the permanent participation of the local community and increased awareness of the importance of environmental conservation. “We hope that CIAyT will motivate young people from Caleta Tortel and the Aisne region to enter the world of science and ecotourism and to develop and practice new knowledge, skills and attitudes to live successfully in this century,” says Paul Gomez Kanchong, CIAyT Program Coordinator. Scientific publishing and education of the COPAS Coastal Centre.

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Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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