Three years ago in the National Congress, a step was taken in the protection of urban wetlands, when the draft Law for the Protection of Urban Wetlands was unanimously approved, which seeks to highlight the importance of the protection needed by these ecosystems, which – Because they are located in densely populated urban areas – they more frequently suffer alterations that degrade them and make them disappear, sometimes more quickly and to limits that are impossible to reverse.
Wetlands today are appreciated as strategic for their great ecological value, with a high capacity to host biodiversity, in addition to representing one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet, with highly diversified habitats that generate food alternatives for many different species and host various concentrations. of avifauna.
Within the Coquimbo region and along its coast, there is a network of wetlands recognized for their complexity and importance, and for constituting important places of refuge for birds: Punta Teatinos, mouth of the Elqui River, Culebrón, Lagunillas, Salinas Chica lagoons and Salinas Grande de Tongoy; and Estero Pachingo, among others. Most of them are in areas of rapid urbanization, which is why in the near future they will become urban areas that, lacking environmental protection and management programs that help their conservation, will be exposed to various anthropic interventions that will put them at risk. danger.
Inserted in the city, the Estero Culebrón, is currently under pressure due to the conditions of its environment, real estate activities, fairs, highways, tourist beaches, etc. that represent a threat to its ecological quality, flora and fauna; especially for the birds that nest and feed on this site. This has made episodes of contamination and negative interventions that have been denounced mainly by citizens more and more frequent.
Due to these threats, the sustainable management of wetlands increasingly represents an opportunity for local development, for ecotourism activities, bird watching, scientific research and environmental education.
In this sense and in light of the validity of this law, the municipalities are key actors, who establish the ordinances and delimit the areas of urban wetlands in their respective communes. An excellent challenge and opportunity for technical cooperation arises, both for municipalities, as well as for universities, research centers and social organizations, to develop studies and projects that protect them.
Successful initiatives have shown that integrating communities and all stakeholders in conservation processes is a source of change and encourages active and responsible participation, with environmental monitoring days, participatory formulation of management plans, workshops and community educational meetings. and intercommunal, among others.
Finally, from these citizen initiatives will emerge the strength and clarity to demand that the communal governments and their respective construction departments not allow real estate initiatives and initiatives of any kind to be carried out that further deteriorate the ecological vulnerability in which they are located. where our wetlands are located, leaving on the table the uncertainty of actually knowing how far we have advanced in issues of protection and inspection of these ecosystems in recent years.