New Netflix documentary Our Great National Parks showcases Patagonia

Netflix just released Our Great National Parks, a new docuseries focusing on national parks around the world. An entire episode is dedicated to Chile’s national parks in Patagonia. Although, as this episode demonstrates, the government has made significant strides in promoting conservation in the last decade, there is still work to do.

Netflix’s newly released documentary, Our Great National Parks, narrated by former U.S. President Barack Obama, devotes an episode to the Chilean Patagonia, an area known for its natural beauty and untouched wilderness. The episode highlights the country’s efforts to strengthen conservation by joining national parks with marine parks and other protected reserves in a network of wild spaces throughout Patagonia. This wildlife conservation corridor helps protect over 200 species of birds and mammals, which have slowly been repopulating areas where they were previously close to extinction. The Route of Parks, a 1,700-mile trail that connects 17 national parks from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn, was created to enable species to move freely and undisturbed.

The show aims to show the local fauna and landscapes in all their glory and prove how crucial it is to protect them. The synopsis states that “these wonders deserve to be preserved, and one of the best ways to prove that is to show audiences what these wonders look like when they thrive.” Despite the seriousness of the topic, the show also seasons its message with humorous appreciation of nature’s ways – the suggestion being that an overly pessimistic stance in the face of climate change is not the solution and that action must stem from a place of reverence and respect for the natural environment.

An immersive visual experience

The film cover an impressive array of Patagonia’s diverse landscapes, from the plains of the Torres del Paine National Park, where pumas hunt guanacos, to the rocky and perilous mountains of the Cerro Castillo National Park, where fledgling condors learn to fly. Thanks to high quality close-ups and state-of-the-art equipment, viewers also get to join penguins swimming to shore along the rugged southern coastline, where three different oceans converge to create some of the world’s most perilous waters, or observe local species such as the monito del monte, a small nocturnal marsupial, jump from tree to tree.

The need for coastal protection

Although nearly half of Chilean Patagonia’s land is protected, only about a fifth of its coastal waters are. As a result, overfishing is a major problem. The Chilean government has passed many regulations to protect at-risk species over the past 20 years — such as restrictive fishing quotas and bans on harvesting and selling during breeding seasons — but what the law say and what people do is a different story.  Many species are still being overexploited and are at risk of collapse, because much of the fishing in this area is carried out by small-scale ventures that operate informally, which makes their activities difficult, if not impossible, to monitor.

The future of sustainable travel in Patagonia

The documentary also touches on the future of ecotourism, which is predicted to bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy over the next 10 years. Chile was named the World’s Leading Nature Destination in 2019 and 2020 at the World Travel Awards and many nature enthusiasts travel to Patagonia each year to get a glimpse of its impressive and raw landscapes. As Obama mentions in the closing remarks, “Chilean Patagonia is an inspiring example of what can be achieved when we work together with nature and believe in the true value of our National Parks.”

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