This wildlife paradise of the Chiloé Archipelago is home to whales, otters, dolphins, and abundant birdlife. But it is threatened by pollution from aquaculture and vehicle traffic in areas where shorebirds nest.
Seacology is working with the small indigenous community of Villa Quinchao, population about 200. It has asked the Chilean government to declare 252 acres of marine wetland as a wildlife sanctuary. This area has so far avoided serious environmental damage, and legal protection will let the community keep cattle from damaging bird habitat. It will also protect areas of ancestral importance to the community, most of whom are descendants of Mapuche peoples.
The community will use a Seacology grant to teach local children about the unique ecosystems of the Chiloé archipelago. The Teresa Cárdenas elementary school already has a student environmental organization and an environmental education program. Students there will get binoculars, telescopes, and nature handbooks to enhance their birdwatching outings and study. The kids will also get t-shirts and hats—fun items, and useful for quickly identifying the group members when on nature outings.
The grant will also fund construction of two wooden bird blinds, shelters from which students can watch birds closely. Community members will be hired to build the structures. Finally, the grant will fund six large interpretive signs, which will provide environmental information to both students and tourists. Placed at the most-visited sites, they will feature the region’s iconic birds, the wetland habitat, and the local culture. They will also teach visitors good practices for bird watching and wetland conservation.