Mar 26, 2012
Author: Press Release
In a region that still experiences the realities of natural disasters, as seen in yesterday’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake in the Maule Region, Chilean communities know how to come together in extraordinary ways to overcome challenges. This past Saturday, March 24th, more than 600 volunteers gathered at 16 sites in nine regions to cleanup and restore beaches and coastal areas throughout Chile. In an unprecedented day of cleanups, volunteers removed more than 4,000 kilos of trash (more than 500 bags of trash) and debris, cleaning and restoring beaches, river mouths, and estuaries along more than 25 kilometers of Chilean coastline.
The number of volunteers ranged from site to site, with the largest turnout in the northern city of Iquique with over 140 volunteers. One small group of 15 volunteers in south central Chile near Loanco worked all day and collected more than 1,000 kilos (12 pickup truck loads) of trash and debris. In Carelmapu in southern Chile, in addition to the cleanup, a group of surfers also created a mural of a humpback whale, a frequent visitor of southern Chilean waters. The most common pieces of trash at each site often were cigarette butts and plastic bags, and the most unusual items found during the cleanup included the hood of a car, mattresses, under garments, and a dishwasher.
Initially, the cleanups were planned for five iconic places related to surfing, including Pichilemu, Punta de Lobos, Loanco, Curanipe, and Cobquecura. However, interested communities, organizations, schools, youth groups, unions, private companies, etc. throughout Chile joined the campaign, organizing additional cleanups in Arica, Iquique, La Serena, Con-Con, Quintero, Iloca, Loanco, Buchupureo, Mehuín, and Carelmapu.
“We started this campaign thinking we would coordinate a handful of beach cleanup sites in a few regions. Very quickly, word spread, and communities all over Chile contacted us to join the effort,” said Katie Westfall, Environmental and Program Director for Save The Waves Coalition. “It has transformed into a national movement for the conservation of Chile’s coast and sea, and we hope this mobilization results in continued focus on coastal protection even after the cleanups.”
"Fuerza Chile" began as a campaign of the nonprofit organization Save The Waves Coalition (STW) and its partners and collaborators to provide humanitarian relief to the hardest hit communities immediately following the tragic 8.8 magnitude earthquake-tsunami of February 27, 2010 (27/F).
To give continuity to the effort led by Save The Waves, in conjunction with the Muale-Itata Coast Keeper Program and various zonal coordinators, “United for Cleanup Water,” the next phase of work, focuses on addressing water quality issues and conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems, particularly in Chile’s south central regions. An integral part of the campaign emphasizes the importance of stewardship of natural resources by local communities.
“As Chileans, we have a very important connection with the ocean. From the food on our plates, the work that provides us livelihood, the places we go for relaxation and recreation, the ocean is a fundamental part of Chilean identity,” said Rodrigo de la O, Director of the Maule Itata Coastkeeper headquartered in Curanipe in the Maule Region. “It’s up to all of us to ensure a healthy and thriving coast and ocean for future generations.”
A short video of the cleanups is currently being produced by award-winning filmmaker Sachi Cunningham in conjunction with Save The Waves and will be shown at the Patagonia Adventure Film Festival, which will take place on March 29th – 31st in Santiago, Chile at the Corporación Cultural de Las Condes. More information about the festival can be found here: adventurefilm.org/film_festival/chile/index.aspx
“It’s been inspiring to document the local efforts here, particularly in light of the earthquake and tsunami that happened two years ago. Hopefully the day’s events will remind people everywhere that keeping our beaches clean is a gift that we can provide our oceans with everyday,” said Cunningham.
For more photos from the event, please visit savethewaves.org/news/fuerza-chile-inspires-hundreds.
About Save The Waves Coalition
Save the Wave Coalition is an environmental nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the coastal environment, with an emphasis on the surf zone, and educating the public on its value.
Save the Wave works in partnership with local communities, national and international governments, as well as other conservation groups to conserve surfing ecosystems worldwide. Save The Waves is a 501(c)3 nonprofit.