As part of the initiative to protect the wetlands on the arid-semiarid Pacific coast of South America, the foundation Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung, together with the local partner organisation CNEH, the University of La Serena and the Chilean Ministry of the Environment, successfully completed the designation of the "coastal wetlands of Tongoy" protected area in 2018.
The area comprises 3 wetlands in the Bay of Tongoy: Salinas Chicas, Salinas Grandes and Pachingo, and has been designated both a Ramsar protected area and a Santuario de la Naturaleza (equivalent to a nature reserve). The bay of Tongoy is located in the municipality of Coquimbo, about 400 km north of Santiago de Chile.
The coastal wetlands of this region are of high ecological and socio-cultural value. They are, so to speak, the oases of this semi-desert coastal region.
The administration of the protected area is mostly carried out by the "Round Table of Wetlands of Tongoy", where a committee of members of the local community, civil organisations and local authorities has formed. With the designation of the Ramsar site and Santuario de Naturaleza, the wetlands now benefit from both national conservation status and recognition as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.
A major challenge still lies in developing an integral long-term concept for the entire Bay of Tongoy, in which conservation objectives are consistent with the interests for the development of the tourism and real estate sector and the activities of local fishermen and oyster farmers.
Humedales de Tongoy [in English]
Humedales de Tongoy [in Spanish]