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Puluqui Island


Conservation benefit: Permanent protection of 66 acres of peatland and freshwater lagoons

Community benefit: Environmental education for schoolchildren; peatland management training for families

Date Approved: 06.2022


This project protects freshwater habitat around a river or lake.

Like many islanders, the 2,500 residents of Puluqui Island are constantly concerned about having enough fresh water. They depend entirely on rainfall, which is stored naturally in extensive peatlands and four small lagoons.

The island’s water supply is threatened both by drought and by the degradation of these peatlands. Digging out peat moss can leave the fields dried out, susceptible to fires, and no longer able to store water or support a rich diversity of wildlife, including the tiny deer called the pudu, whose population is declining. And because water no longer flows into the lagoons, those ecosystems, which provide habitat for aquatic birds including grebes, kingfishers, swans, and many others, are degraded as well.

Damaging peatlands creates another serious consequence: greenhouse gas emissions. Undisturbed peatlands trap huge amounts of carbon for very long periods. But when organic matter is exposed to air and starts decaying quickly, enormous amounts of carbon dioxide are released. Damage to peatlands is estimated to create nearly six percent of all human-caused carbon emissions.

To protect the peatlands and lagoons of Puluqui Island, our project partner will work toward prohibiting the extraction of peat moss in the island’s main peatland, which is public property. Families could continue to harvest peat from smaller peatlands. They could learn sustainable peatland management at a new two-acre demonstration station. They are very interested in learning how to preserve the resources—both peat and water—that they depend on, but no one has ever offered this kind of practical help.

In addition, children at a rural school will get environmental and cultural education. Our project partners will build a bird blind at the Pollollo Lagoon, near the school, so students could learn about wildlife in the field.

Finally, our project partners at EcoPuluqui (Asociación Acción Ecologica Puluqui) will work to get legal protection for the main peatland and the largest of the island’s lagoons. This would prohibit unsustainable extraction, garbage dumping, pollution from sewage systems, and motorized boats.

Project Updates

February 2024

Our partner organization built a boardwalk at the demonstration peatland management area and conducted a seminar on management and conservation of water and peatlands on the island. The seminar was a conservation milestone; regional decision-makers, as well as moss extractors’ organizations and researchers working on sustainable peatland management, all participated.

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June 2023

The first bird observation area (hide) was finished; in addition to allowing kids to see wetland birds in the main lagoon, it also provides community open space and a venue for environmental education. In April, field representative Claudio Delgado attended the opening ceremony along with representatives from indigenous communities, island residents, teachers, and students. Our partner organization, Ecopuluqui, continues to carry out environmental education and is building a second hide and a catwalk at the demonstration peatland management area.

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February 2023

Our local partner organization has already met with indigenous communities, peat moss collectors, and the municipal and regional government. They have begun environmental education with island children and are working on a peatland management plan. They also reached an agreement with the community to install a bird and wetland hide in one of the island’s lagoons, and have begun buying construction materials. In March, they plan to hold a seminar on water conservation, peatlands, and sustainable management practices in moss harvesting.

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