Critics of a hydroelectric dam just approved in Chile say building it in a national park is illegal and paves the way for further development on public lands, according to the Santiago Times.
The site of the dam is the 620-square-mile Puyehue National Park in southern Chile, home to scenic landscapes and exotic animal species.
A regional government narrowly approved plans by Italian utility Idroenergia to build two dams on the Pulelfu and Correntoso rivers.
But Chilean legislator Patricio Vallespin said such plans violate a 1940 conservation treaty and existing forest protection laws, which trumps efforts to produce more renewable energy.
He also believes that in quenching the nation’s thirst for energy, local and regional leaders are ignoring the parks’ ecological benefits and setting a bad legal precedent.
UNESCO declared the region to be part of the Southern Andes Temperate Rainforest Biosphere Reserve, which Chile shares with neighboring Argentina.
The measure is meant to give the park and the surrounding area added protection.
The Rio de los Cipreses National Reserve has also been approved as the site of another hydroelectric project, three days after Puyehue decision.
“Hydro Project Approved in Chile’s Puyehue National Park”
The Santiago Times, July 27, 2008