Activists outraged that sacred Chilean island is listed for sale for $20m

The island of Guafo sits at the course taken through blue whales heading into the fjords of Chilean Patagonia. This can be a hotspot for marine biodiversity, house to uncommon vegetation and sacred to the indigenous Mapuche other folks.

And now it’s up on the market.

The 50,00Zero-acre island has been introduced at the jet-set belongings marketplace for a groovy $20m – prompting outrage amongst activists and reigniting a debate in Chile over non-public possession as opposed to nationwide patrimony.


The web ad at Non-public Islands Inc says the island “boasts greater than 44 miles of beach and gives a house to a various array of natural world”.

That vegetation features a uncommon congonilla tree species and the fauna, in particular the marine selection, is little short of impressive, together with blue, humpback, sei and southern proper whales, in addition to orcas and dolphins.

Environmentalists and native indigenous individuals are exasperated that the island’s 83 squaremile (217 squarekm) expanse and its waters – save for a lighthouse manned through the Chilean army – are being introduced the best bidder.

“The island is the access level to the Gulf of Corcovado which is a very powerful feeding flooring for blue and humpback whales at the Chilean coast,” says Yacqueline Montecinos, head of marine biodiversity conservation on the WWF.

South American fur seals make their home on Guafo island.

South American fur seals make their house on Guafo island. Photograph: mflores/Avitrek

Mendacity 23 miles (37km) south-west of the bigger island of Chiloé, Guafo may be house to the arena’s greatest colony of sooty shearwaters, the northern-most colony of southern fur seals, a breeding inhabitants of endangered marine otters, in addition to southern sea lions and nesting magellanic penguins.

In 2017, WWF Chile started a marketing campaign for the island’s waters to be declared a marine safe house, supported through a request from Chile’s senate, nevertheless it now backs a bid through indigenous Mapuche Huilliche communities from Chiloé to oversee Guafo’s beach.

“We’re asking the federal government to believe returning [the island],” mentioned Cristian Chiguay, lonko, or chief, of 11 Lafkenche de Quillón communities which might be a part of a scheme to preserve ancestral fishing grounds off the island the place they accumulate sea urchins and purple carrageenan seaweed utilized in pores and skin conditioning cosmetics.

“We see [the island] as a supply of lifestyles and non secular energy. For us it’s now not a trade, it doesn’t have business price,” added Chihuay.

Guafo has the world’s largest colony of sooty shearwaters.

Guafo has the arena’s greatest colony of sooty shearwaters. Photograph: Evelyn Pfeiffer/Evelyn Pfeiffer / WWF Chile

The island is lately collectively owned through businessmen Paul Fontaine and Rodrigo Danús, the latter of whom is the nephew of Basic Luis Danús Covian, who served as an economic system minister within the army dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Below their possession there was once fear the island’s coal deposits might be exploited however this is now not going because of a central authority block on coal mining.

Guafo is certainly one of six Chilean islands lately on the market on Non-public Islands Inc. however its list was once withdrawn from Sotheby’s Realty this week it seems that amid media passion.

Chile’s setting ministry mentioned the island and its waters have been a “hotspot for biodiversity conservation” however as “non-public belongings, the present regulation does now not permit … it to be declared a countrywide park, herbal monument or nationwide reserve”.

Guafo is one of six Chilean islands currently for sale.

Guafo is certainly one of six Chilean islands lately on the market. Photograph: Evelyn Pfeiffer/Evelyn Pfeiffer / WWF Chile

The longer term proprietor may flip it right into a conservation house, the observation added, however would now not be obliged to.

Historic data display that Guafo has been in non-public palms for round a century. The island, dubbed the “Galápagos of Chile” was once reportedly visited through Charles Darwin in 1834 on HMS Beagle’s 2d voyage.

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