Protecting the Biobío Basin

Growing up in the beautiful region of Biobío in Chile, Fernanda Castro Purrán was enchanted by the pristine waters that flowed through the dense forests and majestic mountains. The rivers were not just a source of life but also held the stories and traditions of her ancestors, the indigenous Mapuche people. She always believed that the key to protecting the biocultural diversity of Chile’s Biobío river basin lay in connecting people with the natural beauty that surrounded them. As the founder of Ríos to Rivers Chile, she had dedicated her life to this mission, using watersports and education as her tools.

Fernanda organized regular kayaking and rafting expeditions for local children and teenagers. She believed that immersing them in the river’s flowing currents would ignite a deep appreciation for its importance. With each paddle stroke, Fernanda shared stories of the indigenous communities that had lived along the river for generations, emphasizing the delicate balance between human and nature.
The children marveled at the vibrant biodiversity that flourished along the riverbanks. Fernanda pointed out rare bird species perched on tree branches and fish swimming gracefully beneath their boats. Through these experiences, the children learned that the river was not just a body of water; it was a living ecosystem that supported countless forms of life.
But Fernanda’s work extended beyond the waters. She organized workshops and educational programs in local schools, teaching children about the cultural significance of the river to the indigenous Mapuche people. She invited community elders to share their knowledge, ensuring that the ancient traditions and wisdom were passed down to the younger generation.
The impact of Fernanda’s efforts was tangible. The children grew passionate about protecting their natural heritage. They organized clean-up campaigns along the riverbanks, planted trees, and advocated for sustainable practices in their communities. The ripple effect of their actions spread far and wide, inspiring others to join the cause.
Thanks to Fernanda’s unwavering dedication, Rios to Rivers became a catalyst for change in the Biobio river basin. The once-threatened biocultural diversity flourished as communities embraced their role as stewards of the land. Fernanda’s vision of using watersports and education as tools for conservation had become a reality, creating a sustainable future where humans and nature thrive in harmony.

Why Is This Important?

Protecting 50% of Earth’s land and oceans is pivotal to preserve biodiversity, mitigate carbon emissions, and enhance ecosystem resilience. By conserving large swaths of natural habitats, we safeguard countless plant and animal species, maintaining the delicate balance crucial for sustaining life on Earth.

These protected areas act as vital carbon sinks, absorbing and storing substantial amounts of carbon dioxide, helping to alleviate the greenhouse effect and combat climate change. Preserving these regions also enhances the planet’s capacity to adapt to the impacts of climate change, providing refuge for species and ecosystems that may otherwise struggle to survive in an increasingly warmer world. Learn more about the lands around the world that need protected via the Global Safety Net here.

What Can You Do?

Consider these tips…


What is the closest water body to you? Have you visited it recently? Consider taking a weekend visit and exploring the rivers, streams, ponds, lakes, or oceans near you. During your visit, examine whether the water is clean or if there is any waste being dumped there. How can you take steps to ensure these waters are protected?

In your own home or space, examine the products you use to wash your clothes and opt for sustainable alternatives that are kinder to waterways.


What efforts to protect waterways around you exist? Consider volunteering with a local group to clean up and protect these precious waterways from human waste and dumping. During the clean-up, examine the relationships between boating and water quality, and the necessity to shift to renewable sources of energy for transportation, including boats.

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