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Elisa Corcuera 1973 - 2017

Remembering a brilliant Chilean Conservationist

David Tecklin

The movement to protect nature on private lands in Chile is now widespread and growing. Hundreds of private conservation projects of all kinds are on the march. This includes not just the monumental parks agreement between Tompkins Conservation and the Chilean government, but emblematic areas like the Valdivian Coastal Reserve, Juncal Andino Park, Karukinka Park, and Huilo Huilo. The maturation of that land conservation movement builds in large part on the work of conservationist and environmental educator, Elisa Corcuera, who died on July 14 at age forty-four.

Today, conservation enjoys broad if vague public support in Chile, and those of us working in the field no longer feel quite so far out on the social and political margins as we did only 10 or 20 years ago. Elisa was there at the very beginning. While in college she helped to create the Ahuenco Reserve to protect lands adjacent to Chiloe National Park, still the most prominent example of the distinctively Chilean approach to collective protection of lands known as the “conservation community.” Elisa completed a degree in journalism at Chile´s Catholic University followed by a master’s in environmental planning at Arizona State University in the U.S. Upon returning to Chile in 1999 she began work as a freelance conservation planner.

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