Mayors and the regional government are calling for the Mapocho River to be declared an urban wetland


The Mapocho River is vital to maintaining the hydrological cycle of the Maipo Basin and is the main biological corridor of the city of Santiago. It crosses 16 municipalities, from the foothills, in Lo Barnechea, to the confluence with the Maipo River in El Monte. Outstanding among the river’s benefits is its ability to minimize flooding, as well as provide spaces to connect with nature and share in the community.

“For a long time the Mapocho River belonged to no one, but today it belongs to everyone. We are making the Mapocho River an indisputable milestone for Santiago, recognizing its enormous biodiversity and its contribution to the sustainable development of the city,” said RM Governor Claudio Orrego.

“Together we will protect it and transform it, from that space that divided Santiago for decades, to a meeting point, integration, protection and environmental and territorial justice. It is a very happy day for the city of Santiago, in which we hope that in a short time the Ministry of the Environment will declare the Mapocho River an urban wetland for the conservation and enjoyment of future generations,” added the regional authority.

The request for the declaration of the Mapocho River as an urban wetland has the purpose of obtaining the protection provided by law n. 21.202 and develop collaborative work based on its conservation to make Santiago a more sustainable city.

The application was submitted by the municipalities where the Mapocho River is located and where it has not yet been declared an urban wetland and, also, by those municipalities with the limits. The initiative was initially born from the work of the Network of Mayors for Sustainability and was taken up by the regional governor, Claudio Orrego, to incorporate all the municipalities bordering the Mapocho river, given its ecological importance and because it is a point of urban reference and with great tourist potential.

“We were here in June and expressed our commitment to work together, the municipalities, so that the Mapocho River, which runs through all of Santiago, is declared an urban wetland. Today we take a new step in this commitment by submitting this request to the Ministry of the Environment. We have added all the municipalities crossed by the river. Here you can see that Mapocho is a beautiful place, with a very rich flora and fauna, which we will protect and value,” said the mayor of Vitacura, Camila Merino.

“Today we have to highlight the articulation and work of 16 municipalities to carry forward an initiative that is not only on a local scale, but also on a regional scale. That is why today the Network of Mayors for Sustainability, supported by the Regional Government, allows us to develop collaborative initiatives such as these that save a heritage so typical of the metropolitan region as the Mapocho River and the conservation of its biodiversity. When we learned about the experience of Lo Barnechea, it was a relevant challenge to agree with the different municipalities, from where there are political and social differences, of the different income levels and many other things, but the Mapocho River has the power to unite all we who share the city of Santiago,” said the mayor of Renca, Claudio Castro.

Ministry of the Environment

“As the Ministry of the Environment we want, from the territories, to build the necessary actions and measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change, therefore, we support this declaration promoted by the metropolitan regional government and these 13 municipalities to declare an urban wetland all the stretch of the Mapocho River, since it will allow it to have protection in its entirety, strengthening not only the biodiversity of this tributary but also the ecosystem services it provides, as well as having the adequate tools to recover its ecological and cultural value through sustainable management that guarantees better quality of life for the inhabitants of the region”, declared the Seremi de Medio Ambiente, Sonia Reyes.

“It is gratifying and fruitful to see that when mayors work together and we do so amidst so many divisions, we can get things done. Today we demonstrate that we can work together and that we can put problems and solutions first, without thinking about political interests. Today we see how an environmental policy, which is something that worries many of us and especially the younger ones, is born out of various mayors and bears fruit. I am sure that by doing this, without so many divisions, we will have many more,” said Providencia Mayor Evelyn Matthei.

The application covers a total area of ​​734 hectares, with an approximate length of 77.6 km. The municipalities of Lo Barnechea, Vitacura, Las Condes, Providencia, Santiago, Recoleta, Independencia, Quinta Normal, Renca, Cerro Navia, Pudahuel, Maipú and Padre Hurtado participate directly in the candidacy. The Municipality of Lo Barnechea was appointed coordinator of the declaration process, on the basis of the experience of said Municipality, which already has 6 urban wetlands declared and two in progress.

“After the excellent work of the municipal technical team, we submitted the application for urban wetland declaration for the Mapocho River to the Seremi MMA, on behalf of 13 municipalities and the regional government. It was an extraordinary job that was reflected in the presence of so many mayors and it is a source of pride that they all entrusted Lo Barnechea to make the presentation and coordinate the process that will allow this tributary, so important for the capital, to see the its protected ecosystem.” said the mayor of Lo Barnechea, Cristóbal Lira.

Once the request for declaration of urban wetland has been presented, the Ministry of the Environment must decide within 6 months. Once declared an urban wetland, municipalities must incorporate the wetland as a “natural value protection area” in their spatial planning instruments, as well as develop a general ordinance for the protection of wetlands located in their municipality, among the other actions.

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