Off the beaten path, but just three hours from Santiago, lies the region of Maule, Chile – a place of incomparable natural beauty. Near the town of Putú, there are breathtaking sand dunes and wetlands, natural spaces that often end up on the itineraries of visiting tourists.
But what you don’t find in the visitors guides or in travel guidebooks is that the sand dunes of Putú and neighboring wetlands are both threatened by mining companies seeking to extract iron from the dunes.
In 2009, an Australian company made a bid to operate in the region. In response, the local community of Putú mobilized, forming the Maule Mataquito Defense and Conservation Group to protect the area and natural resources. However, the threats from extraction failed to cease.
In May 2017, Global Greengrants Fund awarded the organization a grant of $5,300 to create a documentary about the socio-environmental conflicts around extractive industries in the dunes and wetlands of Putú. The film will be used to continue educating local communities about the threats mining poses to the region.
Then, in October, the group received news of a huge victory. After a long process of citizen organizing and empowerment, the organization learned that the dunes and wetlands have officially been designated a protected nature sanctuary. This news was a long time coming, and is proof that the group’s efforts to oppose mining in the region, and mobilize the local community in resistance was a success.
Congratulations to the Maule Mataquito Defense and Conservation Group and surrounding communities!