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Businessman determined to develop 'Yosemite of South America' has change of heart, does something remarkable with land instead: 'This is an irreplaceable place'

"The vast majority of people around the world care about wildlife and nature."

"The vast majority of people around the world care about wildlife and nature."

Photo Credit: iStock

Environmental activists have saved an untouched oasis known as the "Yosemite of South America" from development. The New York Times reported that the businessman who purchased the land is selling it at an incredible price to conservationists. 

In 2007, Chilean businessman Roberto Hagemann started buying up the land in central Chile called the Hacienda Pucheguin. Over 200 families originally owned the land, and he bought it up piece by piece to develop it for tourism. 

Hagemann received a lot of resistance when he tried to build a hydroelectric facility on the land. It would have required constructing roads through the untouched wilderness. 

In 2013, wilderness guide Rodrigo Condeza founded a nonprofit called Puelo Patagonia dedicated to protecting the land. He rallied public support and even went to court to stop the facility from being built, saying it would disrupt important ecological land.

When Hagemann couldn't develop the land, he sold it in 2018. Christie's International Real Estate listed the property for $150 million. While no one brought an offer, it caught the eye of conservationists, including Condeza. 

Puelo Patagonia made a low-ball offer of $50 million. This got the two adversaries talking. Hagemann countered at $100 million, but it wasn't until Hagemann's son, a rock climber, encouraged his father to sell to the conservationists that he lowered the price to $63 million. 

Puelo Patagonia has raised $15 million of the fund, and Hagemann has given the organization two years to raise the rest of the money. 

Protecting this land is crucial because it contains over 325,000 acres of forests that can store more carbon than the Amazon. It also has one of the oldest living species of trees: the endangered Alerce. 

The Hacienda Pucheguin also has other endangered and endemic species, including Darwin's frog and the marsupial the monito del monte. The land provides a habitat for these animals with a large amount of freshwater. 

"This is an irreplaceable place," senior executive at the Nature Conservancy Jeff Parrish said, per the New York Times. "We need to make sure that it stays the way nature intended it to be."

Protecting this land means safeguarding these animals, but it also keeps intact a carbon-absorbing resource that helps reduce the polluting gases in the air. Removing these forests would remove a carbon-absorbing resource while also releasing the carbon in the trees. 

The UN Environment Programme wildlife and biodiversity expert Max Gomera said: "The vast majority of people around the world care about wildlife and nature and many would like to have a say in the future of our planet."  

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