Who am I?

I am the valley that links the high Andean mountains and the sea.
I am the species that I nurture and help grow.
I am the leaf, the tree trunk, and the forest.
I am the Kodkod wildcat whose survival depends on all of the above.

Reñihué

I am a remote, secluded valley in Los Lagos Region, home to an immense diversity of plants, animals, and fungi. I am surrounded by the Douglas Tompkins Pumalín National Park.

I run unbroken from the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, providing a remarkable habitat corridor for the local wildlife.

I am a land as well as a marine passageway. My namesake fjord is home to dolphins, killer whales, the world’s southernmost cold-water corals, and a vast diversity of birds.

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History

I am Reñihué. I go back thousands of years, to a time when the land was overlaid by a vast mass of thick ice. Back then, I wasn’t surrounded by boundless fjords or covered in lush forests. Back then, all was white and cold.

 

14000

But if winter comes, can spring be far behind? One day, however, the bitterly cold winds subsided and Patagonia began to thaw. The great ice fields receded, carving out vast basins that became filled with water.

12000

Since then, I lived through a myriad changes, from glacial retreats to the birth of rivers and lakes. One millennium after another, I witnessed the emergence of microorganisms, lichens, mosses, insects, birds, and an endless range of other new inhabitants.

10000

I saw the advent of the first herbivores, which in turn attracted the first Kodkod cats and pumas. In time, I became covered in a complex forest system that teemed with life.

6000

In succeeding years I gave refuge to many communities. Among the humans I got to know best were the Chonos, who would paddle to my shores in their dalcas, or dugout canoes. But as the sky began to fill with smoke from the great fires to the north, I saw them less and less, until they never came back again. Not to my shore, nor to any other.

In the late 1800s

I did not see humans again until recently. First, a few explorers. Then, some small farmers who called me “a ranch”. Then there were grasslands and grazing cattle.

1992

One day I welcomed a new family, the Tompkins. They were concerned about my well-being and began to call me Pumalín.

2018

A new inhabitant, Charlie Clark, has arrived. He is committed to protecting me and to the long-term welfare of those who inhabit me.

2021

Today, there is a new organization, the Reñihué Nature Conservancy Foundation, that aims to get to know me better and help conserve my inhabitants.