Conservation and Society

: 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 203--217

The Diverse Properties of Private Land Conservation in Chile: Growth and Barriers to Private Protected Areas in a Market-friendly Context

David R Tecklin1, Claudia Sepulveda2,  
1 School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA, and Center for Environmental Studies, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Los Ríos, Chile
2 Universidad de La Frontera, Temuco, Araucanía, Chile

Correspondence Address:
David R Tecklin
School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA, and Center for Environmental Studies, Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia, Los Ríos, Chile


Private land conservation and many other contemporary environmental practices and policies are commonly described as «SQ»market-based«SQ» or «SQ»market-driven.«SQ» We argue that this characterisation derives in part from a conflation of private property rights with markets, and that it can obscure the diversity of institutional logics, practices, and political dynamics involved in conservation. We seek to illustrate this diversity through an analysis of private protected areas (PPA) in Chile. Through the experiences of different types of protected areas, as well as the related policy debates, we explore the ideological, political, and institutional conflicts and barriers to private land conservation within a legal and policy framework widely considered to be market friendly. Based on the diverse qualities of property rights observed in conservation projects we suggest the need for a critical environmental research agenda focussed on this neglected form of institutional diversity.

How to cite this article:
Tecklin DR, Sepulveda C. The Diverse Properties of Private Land Conservation in Chile: Growth and Barriers to Private Protected Areas in a Market-friendly Context.Conservat Soc 2014;12:203-217

How to cite this URL:
Tecklin DR, Sepulveda C. The Diverse Properties of Private Land Conservation in Chile: Growth and Barriers to Private Protected Areas in a Market-friendly Context. Conservat Soc [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Jan 26 ];12:203-217
Available from:

Full Text


Research questions

A multitude of environmental practices and policies are now commonly described as 'market-based' or 'market-driven'. Along with environmental certification and payment for ecosystem services, the conservation of private lands using easements or protected areas is often represented as a prime example of this market-based tendency. Despite the evident growth of market environmentalism, we argue that, this a priori characterisation flows from a conceptual conflation of markets and private property rights. This tendency is problematic in that it has obscured the potentially diverse uses and understandings of private property rights within environmental practice and political debate. We provide an illustration of this diversity through an assessment of the history of private protected areas (PPA) in Chile that focusses on the political and institutional tensions involved in their development.

Chile has one of the earliest and most emblematic neoliberal policy frameworks (Bauer 1998; Harvey 2005; Vergara 1985) and continues to be ranked as among the most market-friendly countries worldwide (Gwartney et al. 2011). It also has extensive experience with private land conservation. PPAs began to emerge in the 1990s and have grown to cover an estimated 1.5 million ha within over 370 different projects, making Chile a regional leader in private conservation (MMA 2011). Yet, in these two decades of growth, and despite a nominal acknowledgement of their existence within Chile's national environmental framework law, PPAs have remained a sort of 'policy fiction', largely without legal recognition except that which can be pieced together by reworking other areas of law. Furthermore, as we document below, PPA development has faced many challenges and remains vulnerable on multiple fronts. From this historical experience we address two interrelated questions: Why has it been so difficult to incorporate private protected areas into legal and policy frameworks that are widely considered to be market friendly? What specific tensions and contradictions are generated by the use of private property for conservation in the Chilean context? Our exploration of these questions focusses on the policy debate over the last two decades in Chile, and on three distinct PPA experiences that collectively illustrate the problematic relationships between conservation, private property rights, and pro-market policies.

Mixing up property and markets

Where 'markets' are used as a broad characterisation of transitions in environmental governance this often and increasingly rests on a conflation of markets with private property rights. The concept of 'market-based environmental policy' originates in environmental economics, as a considerably narrower conceptualisation than what we see at present. Such policy was to be distinguished by its use of 'market signals' and incentives rather than direct governmental control. While market-based approaches to environmental policy were defined by the efficiency gains realised through markets, the early literature at least recognised that governmental regulation was necessary to establish the initial allocation of rights and trading mechanisms

(Stavins 2007). All such proposals are described as deriving either from Pigouian (1932) theory of taxes to internalise negative externalities, or from Dales' (1968) idea of 'cap and trade', in which the government establishes an upper limit on rights to use a resource and then allows private trading in these rights in order to generate efficient levels of compliance.

Current references to 'market-based' environmentalism go far beyond this original formulation. In their influential survey, Madsen et al. (2010: 1) go so far as to state, "biodiversity markets include any payment for the protection, restoration, or management of biodiversity." The use of loose market rhetoric-whether by proponents or critics-has grown with the ascendance of neoliberal economic thought beginning in the 1990s (Harvey, 2005). The particular conflation of private property and markets that is just one aspect of this phenomenon, however, has roots in neoclassical economics more broadly, i.e., beyond the discipline's neoliberal variants. In legal scholarship, property is understood as an enforceable claim over some valued thing (Bromley 1989; Macpherson 1978). Orthodox economics has assumed this to be a straightforward relationship that serves to communicate the price of an object and thus enable trade (Merrill and Smith 2001). Such an unproblematic and 'hand in glove' conception of the relationship between property and markets has been taken a step further in neoliberal thought, particularly in the work of the University of Chicago's 'property rights school' (Demsetz 1967). These authors envision the production of property rights as a function of market demand, in which individuals atomistically originate new rights in accordance with a cost/benefit calculus of resource value versus the cost of propertisation-i.e., the creation and maintenance of property rights (see Barzel 1989 for an exposition and critique of this view). The neoliberal perspective thus could minimise the role of politics, collective action and government in the emergence of property, while it simultaneously emphasised private property rights as the central scaffolding for the rule of law, and thus also for economic development (see Mirowski and Plehwe 2009).

In the context of environmental policy, followers of this tradition-and particularly 'free market environmentalists'-place private property rights at the core of environmental policy arguing that these can efficiently capture environmental demand if the state does not interfere (Anderson and Hill 1975; Anderson and Leal 1991). Such literatures thus not only reinforce an unproblematic identification of property and markets, but also shift the emphasis of policy from the design and operation of markets through government action, to the privatisation of resources, i.e., to extending private property rights to natural resources to the greatest extent possible.

Critical political economy, political ecology, and the commons

In contrast, critical approaches in political economy, especially those centred on neoliberalism and nature, have understood privatisation as just one of a multiplicity of processes involved in constructing environmental markets, as well as the biophysical and institutional barriers that impede and shape such efforts (Robertson, 2006; Heynen et al. 2007; Mansfield 2008; Bakker 2010). In general, such scholarship has assumed privatisation to be wholly consistent with resource commodification. However, the possibility that privatised rights can be multivalent with respect to markets and generate complex social effects has been recognised in various contexts. Mansfield (2008) for example, describes how the implementation of a marketable 'Community Development Quota' system in fisheries policy in Alaska simultaneously contributed to resource commodification and to the protection of native peoples' community values.

Though not necessarily focussed on the relationship between property and markets, scholarship in political ecology, commons theory, and legal anthropology has produced a rich empirical literature on the culturally and politically embedded character of property rights. A shared contribution of this interrelated work has been to document that property rights may originate from, and be constrained and enabled by, a variety of processes beyond formal state law. The way that rights are renegotiated through discursive strategies (Fortmann 1995), extensive use of 'forum shopping' in the adjudication of rights (Benda-Beckman 1981), and the articulation of property rights with categories of race, gender, or place-based heritage (Berry 1996; Peluso and Lund 2011) have been thoroughly documented. Empirical research in these areas has generally focussed on post-colonial and post-socialist contexts, and has identified the multiple and overlapping layers of rights to resources that have emerged through political transitions and struggle at different levels (e.g., Peluso 1992; Verdery 1999). Perhaps because of this focus on contexts of extensive legal pluralism, these literatures have been more concerned with exploring the articulations of property rights and other factors in determining who benefits from resources (Ribot and Peluso 2003) than with critiquing assumed relationships between private property and markets.

Neo-institutionalist commons scholarship originated with a concern to break down a dichotomous imaginary and policy prescription focussed on either state or market as the only solutions to environmental problems (Ostrom 2010). In the process, it has turned sustained analytical attention to the immense diversity in rights regimes and in particular to how self-governing commons generate entitlements to resources (Ostrom 2005; Schlager and Ostrom 1992). This work has further highlighted the typically complex nature of such rights originating in the commons because they are often subject to collectively established limitations based on factors such as group affiliation, cultural or religious obligations, season, technology, and location (Ostrom 2005; Rose 2002). It thus supports the insight that under many circumstances, propertisation processes may produce non- or less-commodified forms of rights in resources.

Legal property theory

While typically centred on formal law, and committed to classically liberal conceptions of property rights, legal property theorists have long highlighted the dynamic, highly social, and complex character of property rights, and have pointed out the inherent tensions between the different purposes that property is meant to serve. Important recognised trade-offs include security or certainty in expectations versus flexibility to accommodate change, and the parallel tension in jurisprudence between reliance on 'crystalline' rules vs 'muddy' ex-post interpretations and adjustments (Rose 1994). While property rights have undoubtedly become increasingly commodified since the seventeenth century (Horwitz 1977; Macpherson 1978; Scott 2008), attempts to use property rights to constrain resource tradeability are also a constant, even if they run against the dominant grain. Broadly speaking, legal histories demonstrate that commodified rights are neither natural nor spontaneous as Hayek (1960) and his followers would have it, but rather-to borrow from Polanyi's (1957) characterisation of markets-are the result of sustained and intensive state action. To the extent that market forces are perceived as a threat to things that are valued in non-commodified forms (Radin 1996), we should expect, again following Polanyi, continuous efforts to adapt private property rights to provide protection from the market. Various feudal 'entailments' oriented to maintain links between land and lineage are a well-known example of property rights designed to protect assets from exposure to the market (Alexander 1999).

More contemporary examples can be found in limits on the full alienability (Priest 2006) and destruction of property (Strahilevitz 2005), and the use of various forms of 'servitudes' (particularly easements) to establish restrictions on future land use (Rose 2009). Such regulatory, non- or anti-market qualities of property are sharply, if not always in these terms, debated in law (Ertman and Williams 2005). Many standard elements of modern property law are in fact aimed at disciplining property rights to produce or maintain commodified forms. Examples from the common law system include the 'rule against perpetuities', judicial review of servitudes, and principles to avoid 'excessive' fragmentation of rights (Heller 1999; Merrill and Smith 2000; Priest 2006; Rose 2009). While the particularities of legal reasoning are different in the common law and civil law traditions, many of the objectives and principles involved in this disciplining of property appear to be shared. Most significantly, this includes the numerus clausus doctrine which is an integral part of the civil law tradition and implicitly applied in Anglo-American common law to restrict the forms that rights can take to a set of predefined, or 'off the rack' types, thus serving to rein in complexity (Merrill and Smith 2000). The Chilean Civil Code for example expresses this doctrine in its use of a 'closed list' of acceptable forms that can be taken by property rights. In summary, underneath the particular doctrines involved we can see a historical role of the courts and legislatures in pruning away those organically proliferating branches of property that impede tradeability. It should be no surprise then that the diverse and socially complex formulae that may reside within property are often concealed beneath a commodified appearance, or that many critics and analysts of environmental policy have come to think of propertisation and commodification as synonymous.

Growth of private protected areas

The history of protected areas established by individuals and other non-state actors stretches back for centuries at least (Glacken 1967), but over the last twenty years a new and greatly expanded trend in privately protected areas is evident in many countries (Langholz and Lassoie 2001). One turning point was in 2003 when PPAs were incorporated into the official list of protected areas that the United Nations and the IUCN use to track protected area growth worldwide. This change was much debated and eventually embraced at the fifth IUCN World Parks Congress in 2003. Similarly, the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity officially incorporated PPAs into their core work programme in 2004. 1 Nonetheless, even as scholarship on protected areas has diversified from the narrower technical and operational emphases that dominated the literature up into the 1990s towards broader social science concerns (Brockington et al. 2008; Holmes 2007), little work has focussed on PPAs (though, see Langholz 2003). Critical social scientists have also increasingly questioned the ways that conservation has become articulated with neoliberal policy and market approaches more generally, as evidenced by recent special issues in several journals on 'neoliberal conservation' and related themes (Igoe and Brockington 2007; Brockington 2011;

Roth and Dressler 2012). However, the specificities of PPAs have not been addressed there in any depth.

Private protected areas in Chile's policy context

Given Chile's strongly neoliberal policy orientation since the 1970s, as well as a consensus across the political spectrum to privilege economic growth over environmental concerns, environmental regulation was late in coming to Chile, and highly constrained (Silva 1996; Tecklin et al. 2011). One exception has been an extensive state run protected area system that includes 94 units in various categories and now covers 19% of the country's terrestrial territory (Sierralta et al. 2011). The first national reserve dates to 1907, however most areas were enacted from the 1960s to the late 1980s using remnant state lands at high elevations and high latitudes. 2 Land and resource privatisation were key policies of the military dictatorship that governed the country from 1973 to 1990. Many of the country's public forests were privatised in this period, but, for complex foreign and domestic policy considerations, the public PA system as a whole was maintained, and even grew in some regions. Reflecting the neoliberal restructuring of the state, the PA system was entrusted to a hybrid public-private agency, the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), where it has remained in a legally precarious and chronically underfunded situation (Espinoza 2010). Political discourses around the public PA system have been poorly articulated, reflecting the low priority that it has received since its inception. The Left-wing parties have generally supported public PAs as an expression of state intervention for the environment but with little enthusiasm. Despite opposition from some neoliberal ideologues (see below), the pragmatic Right and business actors have seen a limited public PA system as the useful counterpart to unregulated use of private lands. 3

In this context, private PAs emerged in Chile in the late 1980s, grew steadily in number, and now are estimated to cover over 10% of the surface area of the public protected area system (Pauchard and Villarroel 2002). PPAs are nominally recognised in Article 35 of the country's National Environmental Framework Law of 1994. As of 2012, however, this has not become operative due to a lack of implementing regulations. Given the lack of formal recognition-and despite their extensive mention in government strategies and plans-there is no systematic accounting of their number, distribution, or characteristics. Recognising the great diversity in PPAs-ranging from areas resembling national parks in their approach and goals, to lands that are vaguely declared as protected by their owners but without any specific management-here we follow the common usage in Chile in referring to any self-declared conservation area as a 'PPA'.

The vast majority of these projects are in the central-southern and southern regions of Chile [Figure 1], and thus, even if fully protected, their potential contribution to ecosystem conservation in Chile is highly uneven (Pliscoff and Fuentes-Castillo 2011). Moreover, few PPAs have developed specific conservation goals or minimum standards, and the levels of commitment to conservation, expertise, and resources are extremely varied across projects (Sepúlveda et al. 2003). Most of the better-known PPAs have been maintained over time. However, following the sale or inheritance of properties, several projects that received technical assistance from conservation organisations in the 1990s have dropped their claims to protected status. 4 {Figure 1}

Public attention to private conservation in Chile has focussed on very large private reserves. In the 1990s it centred on the famously controversial Pumalin Park and other projects associated with US businessman and philanthropist Doug Tompkins, his family and associates. 5 Many other large reserves have emerged since. In the mid 2000s, in particular, there was a surge of engagement in private conservation by international NGOs, indigenous communities, and major Chilean businessmen, and this was accompanied by a change in the policy debate and public discourse over PPAs. 6 Large and more purely conservationist projects, however, have often obscured the more numerous and smaller initiatives that characteristically mix public purposes and private benefits (Sepúlveda et al. 1998). These mixed projects are highly diverse in ownership, purposes and implementation, and range from smallholder (campesino) parcels managed for ecotourism to eco-real estate projects that aim to develop subdivisions alongside private reserves. 7 Of these mixed-purpose projects, an early and influential type are known as comunidades de conservación (or 'conservation communities'), and involve the formation of ad-hoc organisations by individuals for the collective acquisition and management of property with both altruistic and private objectives (Sepúlveda 1998). These conservation communities have created a new form of environmental property, the project share-whose market prospects have been assessed with some expectation (Corcuera et al. 2002). Our analysis here moves from the history of large reserves through the experience of the conservation communities to the overall policy debate over the legalisation of conservation rights.


This research uses several complementary qualitative methods. Method and biography are interlinked here, in an approach that combines retrospective and contemporaneous participant observation. Both the authors were deeply involved in the world of Chilean private conservation as researchers, organisers, and project developers (spanning the years 1997-2007 and 1994-2008 respectively), and we draw heavily on this accumulated experience particularly in terms of establishing the interpretative context for findings. Analysis based on past work experience is often questioned on a variety of bases. It may be considered anecdotal or less systematic than classic ethnographic exercises, or lacking in sufficient distance or objectivity depending on the epistemological stance. It does not seem necessary to revisit the arguments in favour of participatory qualitative methodologies (see, e.g., Strauss 1987), but doubts regarding the systematic nature of our observations deserve attention.

For the 1997-2008 period, we have organised and reviewed personal organisers and notes from meetings, workshops, and other events. At least one of the authors was present at nearly all of the major public events related to private conservation held in Chile during this period. This longitudinal experience provides context for interpretation of the changing subjectivities of those actors engaged in conservation politics. Nonetheless, as a means of reconstructing a substantive analysis of events this retrospective approach inevitably suffers from gaps, and does not bring us to the present. In order to overcome such limitations, earlier experience was augmented through three periods of fieldwork between 2008-2012 where we participated in conservation conferences and meetings, visited five PPA projects and attended hearings held by congressional committees on reform of the National Environmental Framework Law, a proposed law for a National Protected Areas and Biodiversity Service, and proposed conservation easement legislation (described in more detail below). To some extent this fieldwork constitutes an 'ethnographic revisit' (Burawoy 2009) that has served not only to update information, but also to re-evaluate earlier interpretations. We also carried out interviews (n = 24) with leaders and members of the PPA projects analysed here, staff of national and international conservation NGOs, and government officials including regional and national staff of the Ministry of Environment. In the case of the conservation communities, a first set of interviews with project organisers in the late 1990s was repeated during the current research period, and at least one additional project member was interviewed in each case.

We have also surveyed the national news media (post-2000 when most are available online) for accounts of private conservation. In addition we reviewed legislative and policy histories as well as position papers and other material produced by NGOs and the newly created trade organisation for private land conservation, Asi Conserva Chile. Where available, we reviewed PPA project documents such as constituting papers, decisions and notes from annual assemblies of CCs, management plans and the like. Finally, we reviewed all available secondary literature, much of which comes from research carried out under the auspices of the Centre for Research and Planning for the Environment (CIPMA), including two surveys of PPAs in the Lakes Region (Sepulveda et al. 1998; Sepulveda et al. 2003), as well as from the Network of Private Protected Areas (RAPP for its Spanish acronym) coordinated by the NGO CODEFF between 1997 and 2003 (Maldonado and Faundez 2005).


Large reserves and the ideological and political barriers to conservation

A large portion of the mountainous and remote landscapes of southern Chile is concentrated in very large (>5,000 ha) parcels that have been owned, bought and sold by Chileans and foreigners for all manner of purposes since the late nineteenth century. It is thus revealing that one of the most controversial of all such transactions was Doug Tompkins' purchase in 1991 of the 320,000 ha set of properties that became his Pumalín Park project. Around this time, Tompkins (co-founder of Esprit among other companies) made the transition from businessman to full-time environmental philanthropist, creating the Deep Ecology Foundation among other groups. Together with his wife Kris McDevitt Tompkins (former CEO of Patagonia) he has since been a driving force behind many PPAs in Chile and Argentina [Table 1]. 8 {Table 1}

At the time of purchase, Tompkins declared that Pumalin would be strictly protected from logging and other exploitation. This generated a backlash including public criticism and legal actions by the political, military, and economic elites. The ensuing controversies took the most diverse and often bizarre forms (e.g., accusations that Tompkins aimed to create a Jewish homeland in Chile), showing that PPAs lacked a clear place within political discourse. One common oppositional discourse to emerge was that Pumalin represented a threat to the colonisation or small-holder settlement that had constituted the Chilean state's strategy for securing sovereignty over the extreme Austral regions since the late nineteenth century, and that it would cut the country in two. Among the elite, this line of argument has faded considerably over time in favour of another more durable discourse centred on the permanent withdrawal of large land areas from 'productive activity' and the claim that this will foreclose 'strategic' and 'development' imperatives such as roads, dams, and power lines. In this, opponents typically represent Tompkins' park as putting a padlock on the area's development (de poner un candado al área) 9 so as to limit future resource extraction and infrastructure (Covarrubias 2002). 'Development' in this case is understood as synonymous with the availability of resources for the market.

That private property-through neglectful absenteeism, entangled inheritances etc.-had often functioned to temporarily exclude resources from the market was a familiar occurrence in Chile. However, that an owner would purposefully and explicitly use property to this end on a permanent basis seemed an outrage to many defenders of the free market. For example, the influential neoliberal think tank Libertad y Desarrollo recently argued, "The refusal to permit any economic activities within certain territories could have terrible consequences for the country since excluding territory from development and precluding productive activity from certain areas dangerously resembles territorial planning." (Ximenez 2011: 11). We argue that political and ideological barriers to PPAs originated in this elite anxiety over the use of property rights to remove resources from the market, and that this is an ideological expression of the interlocking interests of natural resource-based industries (mining, timber, agribusiness, energy), and thus a durable feature of the policy context. It has gelled into an opposition to the legalisation of PPAs, or what, in more institutional terms, has been called the 'right to conserve' private property. 10

The potential scope and geographic distribution of initiatives like Tompkins' was another element of alarm in some sectors. Traditionally, protected areas in Chile had been created by the state from economically marginal remnant public lands at high elevations and extreme latitudes. Thus the creation of new public protected areas was inherently limited by the quantity of state land and largely ended by the 1990s. In contrast, the conservation potential of private property is, in principle, limited only by the real estate market. In fact, in the first decade of PPA development the Tompkins family and associates acquired nearly half-a-million ha for conservation [Table 1], not to mention additional lands such as the 70,000 ha Fundo Chacabuco acquired in the following decade.

In 2001, during the height of alarm over the Tompkins effect, a group of senators introduced a bill aimed at undermining the Pumalin project by limiting the extension of private protected areas in a given municipality to a maximum of 20%. 11 Given that the bill did not make it to full legislative debate, proponents never had the opportunity to clear up the mystery of how an entity that had never been legally recognised would be legally limited. This extensive debate over the Tompkins projects illustrated, however, that in the political arena the absolutist conception of private property characteristic of neoliberal ideology has not extended to all uses equally.

Tensions around Pumalin declined during the administration of President Ricardo Lagos (2000-2006) underwritten by the government's acceptance of Tompkin's application for 'Nature Sanctuary' status for Pumalin-a category of limited effect but the closest thing to legal protection available for private lands-and their acceptance of a 84,000 ha parcel donation from Tompkins to create the Corcovado National Park. 12 However, the question of the long-term legal and protected status of Pumalín and the other Tompkins PPA projects remains unsettled. In the absence of a legal framework for private conservation, the Tompkins have used multiple strategies, none of which fit well with market-based characterisations of private land conservation. These have included attempts to weave together existing legal tools and ownership structures to make the future sale or exploitation of conservation lands difficult. 13 Primarily, however, they have sought to pass property to the Chilean state for the creation of national parks, including Tompkins offer in 2012 to donate all of his large properties in Chile for this purpose. Entrenched opposition within government has made this a difficult prospect. While the two newest national parks established in 2005 and 2012 were created in part through private donations, these took advantage of unique political conjunctures and required years of effort on the part of those seeking to donate. For example, substantive negotiations over the 2012 donation of 9,000 ha by The Nature Conservancy for the creation of the Alerce Costero National Park required six years, and were ultimately successful largely because the park was bundled into the inauguration of the new Región de los Ríos (or Rivers Administrative Region). 14 At the park's opening ceremony, in response to a question over whether it would now become easier for other private land-owners like Tompkins to donate conservation lands to the state, the government minister presiding stated, "No. It is a cultural issue. As long as people think that creating a protected area means locking up lands from development forever, this policy will never change." 15

Re-representing conservation and deferring legal protection

Despite these early controversies, PPAs continued to emerge and by the mid-2000s, private conservation had become an increasingly accepted-and sometimes even lauded-activity. 16 While undoubtedly complex and diffuse in origin, this change can be traced, in part, to the development of a second generation of emblematic large private reserves, and particularly the Huilo-Huilo Reserve, Tantauco Park, Karukinka Natural Park, and the Valdivian Coastal Reserve (see [Table 2] for details). Increasing favorable attention to these areas in the news media and by political and economic elites differed sharply from that initially given to Pumalin, and could be taken as a weakening of the ideological and institutional barriers to PPAs. We suggest, however, that these barriers remain largely intact, and that the increasingly favorable reception of these PPAs stems from an effective re-representation of private conservation along with the deferral of legal protections (or the 'right to conserve'). These legitimating processes can be seen in each case in the shared characterisation of conservation as a successor form of land use after failed resource extraction, the creation of new spaces of engagement for the Chilean business elite, the public positioning of projects as contributors to local development, and-despite public commitments to protect these lands-a tendency to de-emphasise and postpone legal measures to this end.{Table 2}

Each of these reserves emerged to replace failed and contentious logging projects, a fact that helps to explain why the proposed changes in land use did not draw more opposition from a 'productivist' or pro-market perspective. Each property is located at the edge of the 'timber frontier,' that is, at the biogeographic limits of an explosively growing industry based in exotic timber plantations. Forestry projects in these cases were often highlighted in the news media as nationally significant environmental conflicts, and occasionally had blemished Chile's 'country image' so important to the political and business elite, causing ripples even in international trade negotiations (OECD-CEPAL 2005). As successor projects, PPAs were represented positively as the result of a functioning land market and a means of rescuing wasting assets, particularly where they showed investment in infrastructure.

The Valdivian Coastal Reserve provides the clearest example of this shift in land use. The underlying lands known as 'Fundos Chaihuin y Venecia' had been the site of a contentious plan to convert 15,000 ha of evergreen rainforest to eucalyptus plantations by the Terranova corporation in the early 1990s. The plan was dropped following environmental mobilisations but then restarted in 1996 by Chilean company Bosques SA. The ensuing legal and political conflicts placed the company's clearcuts on the cover of the country's daily newspaper El Mercurio, even achieving brief international notoriety. Facing financial, legal, and political difficulties, the company was forced into bankruptcy and a coalition led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) purchased the forestlands at auction (Solis and Tecklin 2007).

Karukinka Natural Park involved a similar train of events, though one affecting a much more remote area of slow-growing southern beech, lenga, forests on the windswept island of Tierra del Fuego. The lands involved came into the hands of Trillium, a subsidiary of US-based Plum Creek Timber Company, in 1991 following a privatisation of state lands at a fraction of their appraised value. Against the energetic opposition of environmental organisations, who questioned the privatisation and the company's calculation of timber growth rates, Trillium launched a self-proclaimed sustainable forestry project to exploit the primary lenga forests (Camus and Hajek 1998). Entangled in legal challenges, Trillium eventually harvested only 500 ha, announced a complete redesign of their operation in 2000 and finally relinquished their environmental permit in 2004 (Crosby 2006). After declaring bankruptcy, Trillium's land title was eventually transferred to Goldman Sachs, which donated this to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) along with an endowment to establish and manage a private reserve.

The Huilo Huilo Reserve and Tantauco Park present similar, though less dramatic, evolutions. Huilo-Huilo was originally conceived as a forestry investment by a Chilean consortium. However, the logging of native forests in this steep mountainous area became increasingly mired in legal, economic, and operational difficulties. In 1999, the Peterman family who owned a majority share in these lands announced a shift to tourism and conservation, and tight limits on future logging. 17 Currently, the family has declared 100,000 ha as constituting the reserve, although only 1,000 ha of this have been passed to the family's philanthropic foundation. The Tantauco Park consists primarily of evergreen forest on Chiloé island that was previously targeted as the supply area for successive wood chip projects that did not materialise. On purchasing the area in 2004, billionaire and Center-right politician, Sebastián Piñera (later President of Chile, 2010-14 term), declared that there was no intention to continue with forestry projects, and that the entire area would be managed as a park.

From their earliest phases, each of the reserves' proponents also converged on a self-representation that emphasised their contributions to development and their embeddedness in public-private partnerships. Project organisers had the benefit of having observed the Tompkins controversies and the associated varieties of opposition to PPAs. Whatever the initial motivations, in each case, outreach and public relations capacities were built into each project from the beginning. Huilo Huilo has led in projecting an image of development and local economic renewal. A decade of investment including themed luxury hotels, a brewery, an elevated miniature golf course, and the reintroduction of an extirpated deer species, has made this a staple of tourism and travel news articles in the media. It has since become an obligatory stop-over for elegant vacations in the South, and beyond this, has become one of the most-visited natural areas in Chile with over 33,000 visitors in 2011 (Peterman 2012). Tantauco has similarly invested in extensive infrastructure for public access and tourism including 150 km of walking trails. Media coverage has generally been glowing and centred on the project's significant investments in tourist infrastructure, reforestation, and scientific research. 18 In contrast, it has rarely covered the opposition of Chiloé's indigenous organisations whose protests have ranged from accusations of usurpation of a name belonging to the Huilliche people, to contesting the validity of Piñera΄s land claim given the existence of prior indigenous titles that had never been relinquished. 19 Moreover, although every move by project staff is questioned in terms of Piñera΄s political interests, such conflicts have by and large not penetrated the national media. Karukinka has developed a tourism program and publicised investment in lodges, training and research, though at a smaller scale, and actual visitation is small due to the extremely remote location. In its early years, the Valdivian Coastal Reserve did not receive the kind of capital investment and business aura seen in the other projects, and thus it has also enjoyed less news media attention, although this is expected to change once TNC secures the large private financing it has been pursuing for several years. To date, however, the project's emphasis on public-private partnerships and networks of local collaboration have been favorably reported on.

Involvement by the Chilean business elite in these projects has been another major focus of press attention, and has contributed to changing elite perceptions of PPAs. This is particularly true for Karukinka, the project's initial roll-out included dozens of glowing pieces in the international and national news media highlighting the fit between philanthropy and global finance. 20 A typical example from the Chilean weekly Capital begins, "Men of business and science of the highest caliber are working discretely and with discipline to demonstrate that sustainability has two names: environment and economics. The laboratory: the lands that Goldman Sachs inherited from the failed Forestal Trillium and that constitute a third of Tierra del Fuego…." 21 The reference here is to the project's mixed advisory board which, in addition to distinguished scientists, includes one of Chile΄s richest individuals. In the case of Tantauco Park, Piñera has spoken of the project as his most important legacy and has funded periodic high profile VIP visits by Chile's business and cultural elite. Statements by both project organisers and visitors repeatedly illustrate that private parks have become a mark of social distinction in Chile such as ownership of a vineyard or ranch had been before.

A curious feature of the extensive media coverage and public discussion of these emblematic reserves is that the issue of long-term legal protection has rarely if ever appeared. With the exception of Huilo Huilo, each project has publicly committed nearly all of their lands to ecosystem protection. In the case of the Valdivian Coastal Reserve and Karukinka, this commitment is underlined by the fact that the landowners are conservation organisations. Tantauco Park also states that its first objective is "to preserve and protect the ecosystems and species on the island of Chiloe and its maritime territories," and project staff emphasise their intention to apply for PPA recognition once this legal option exists. 22 However, to date, movement to legal protection has been absent or highly limited in all cases. The VCR provides a partial exception in that 9,000 ha were donated in 2012 for the creation of the Alerce Costero National Park, and discussions are underway toward the possible adoption of a conservation easement. What is clear, however, is that the difficult issue of legal protection has been largely deferred in this generation of projects. In sum, despite continuing controversy and diverse conflicts, this generation of projects has provided a compelling reframing of private land conservation as compatible with a modern, globalised, market-oriented society. However, more systemic acceptance of the effects that land conservation could have in the property rights regime-e.g., removal of land and resources from wider markets-has not followed.

Conservation communities and the cross purposes of private rights

Conservation communities (CCs) have not been as present in the political and public debate as the cases examined above, but they illustrate additional institutional tensions between market approaches and the use of private property rights for conservation. CCs have diverse origins and formats but all share a set of characteristics that, taken as a whole, distinguish them from other mixed purpose PPAs, including: collective land acquisition, a primary altruistic conservation motivation, the reservation of individual rights as well as benefits for group members, and the members' sense of having constituted a realisable land investment (Corcuera, et al. 2002; Sepúlveda 1998). The majority of members live in the capital city of Santiago, are primarily middle or upper-middle class, and the primary private use mentioned in association with projects is vacationing or a summer home spot. 23 With a few exceptions, CC groups appear to have emerged in parallel without explicit networking or transfer of institutional models. They did not have a prior organisational life, and the collective act of acquisition distinguishes them from many other kinds of Common Interest Communities in the US and elsewhere that have recently been the subject of debate (Heller 1999).

Most CC projects are focussed on forest conservation and located in Chile's southern temperate rainforest region. CC projects vary in size from 90 to 19,000 ha, and the number of members ranges from 4 to 174. [Table 3] provides a summary of the best-known cases. Although CC growth has slowed, elements of this approach have persisted within private land conservation more broadly.{Table 3}

Institutionalisation of conservation communities

A common strategy of CCs has been to form a limited liability corporation often with the specific legal format of a real estate corporation or agricultural corporation as the ownership entity for land. This has given them a sort of market façade. However, based on observations of how projects are institutionalised, we argue that contrary to appearances, they tend to privilege non-market over market purposes. Rather than stemming from a market-orientation, project proponents report that the choice of corporate structures was due to a scarcity of other legally secure organisational forms. In addition to providing a structure for fundraising and accounting for individual contributions, the corporate structure has the virtue of establishing a clear and widely accepted governance model while also permitting a fluid definition of individual entitlements. In some cases corporate by-laws specify the connection between shares and individual benefits, but more usually the latter are specified in the minutes (or Actas) of the shareholder assemblies, and are subject to considerable change over time. The most common individual entitlements are use of a small parcel of land for construction of a cabin, use of collective cabins and camping areas, limited use for livestock grazing, and the right to bring visitors or hold events on the property [Table 3]. In most cases, lands dedicated to conservation exceed 90% of the parcel purchased.

Some of the individual rights established in CCs are similar to condominium time-share arrangements and other forms of shared use characteristic of CICs in the U.S. However, there are important differences, three of which stand out.

First, most projects established few or no specific legal rules in their constitutional moment. Second, there is a high level of informality in the rules adopted, which tend to thicken and accumulate over time as project leaders and assemblies develop ad hoc solutions to problems and debates that arise. Third, individual entitlements are often not defined in detail from the outset and may change considerably as projects develop, leadership changes, and members learn about the parcels (which in many cases they purchased sight unseen). Thus, for example, in both Ahuenco and Madreselva, while debate continues over whether to maintain rights to individual lots, actual practice has shifted to the use of collective cabins. Similar evolutions have been identified in all CCs. [Table 4] summarises the rules and norms that are present in most of the CCs, adopted through various mechanisms over time. For clarity, these rules are organised according to the nested categorisation of constitutional, collective choice and operational levels proposed by Ostrom (2005).{Table 4}

The institutional arrangements adopted by CCs constitute a highly 'protective' use of common property and collective rule-making designed in part to allocate individual use rights but very heavily for the purposes of maintaining and restoring ecological conditions. This reflects a fundamental motivation in most projects to remove particularly valued places from an accelerating land development market. In all cases, rules and norms have been devised to make alienation of the property difficult, to limit uses to the enjoyment of non-extractive amenity values, and, to some extent, to limit the transfer of shares in accordance with group values. Thus, while apparently simple entitlements, shares are in fact shaped and constrained by collective rules and norms such that they become relatively complex, locally adapted, and idiosyncratic forms of property. Furthermore, project leaders consistently emphasised that reliance on recycling of existing legal tools has been an important institutional drag on projects leaving them entangled in complex, expensive, and inefficient legal frameworks.

Trading in private conservation rights

The trading of shares in projects was seen as a hallmark of the CC approach, and one with significant potential for growth (Corcuera et al. 2002). It is the only case of a bottom-up or unregulated creation of tradeable environmental rights-i.e., rights designed specifically for environmental purposes-we have been able to identify in Chile to date, yet trading has so far been quite limited. In this case, barriers to market transacting seem to result from a trade-off between the protection and use of complex resources and the conditions for large impersonal markets. In dynamic environmental markets elsewhere frictions between these two objectives have been ironed out through state regulation (Salzman and Ruhl 2000), something that has not occurred here. Thus, we argue that in the absence of state regulation the rights created privately within conservation communities tend toward protective purposes at the expense of tradeability in markets.

For each CC, the initial issue of shares was rapid and successful. Initial share prices ranged from USD 2,750 to USD 27,000, amounts that are not trivial for this socioeconomic context. However, while additional research is required to track this market, project members report that there has been little or no trade in shares over time, and that where sales do occur they are generally between family members or close friends (see [Table 5]. These transactions typically involved extensive communication and often the intermediation of project directors; descriptions of the process sound more like bartering than abstract markets. In the only two cases where large numbers of members have tried to sell shares (Altos de Huemul and Madreselva), informants note the difficulties of selling something that is not recognised within the broader market. As one put it, "There is no market for what we're selling. We're selling a utopia." 24 Many buyers express interest only to withdraw once they have examined more fully what is on offer. The institutional complexity of projects and the idiosyncratic character of the investment are universally commented on. One member notes, that because they have had bad experiences to date, "we want to have a filter (for potential buyers)…on the other hand we often joke that anyone interested would have to be as crazy as us to put money into this." This reality of limited trading in shares contrasts with the initial hopes of project proponents and their supporters in the broader conservation movement who envisioned the emergence of a national market in PPA shares.{Table 5}

While in most cases share prices have increased, they have probably done so at a lower rate than the surrounding real estate market that has seen sustained growth over the last twenty years. In most cases, participants have recognised and debated the obstacles to trading shares, but few measures have been taken to facilitate this, reflecting an unwillingness to sacrifice other objectives for this purpose.

Institutional context and policy debate for private conservation

Chile's property regime-the distribution of property rights and the rules used to govern them (Bromley 1989)-is probably unique worldwide for the extent to which it divides land and natural resources into independent property rights which are in principle available for separate markets. While many jurisdictions separate surface from subsurface rights, or land and water rights, Chile carries this disaggregation of rights to an extreme level. The property regime is fundamentally defined by the country's Civil Code and by the 1980 constitution which has been described as a blueprint for the neoliberal model (Bauer 1998). These are complemented by sectoral laws under which rights to freshwater, subsoil minerals, geothermal water and energy, and the coastal inter-tidal zone are all fully separate from land or 'real property' itself. Under these specific laws third parties can constitute rights that overlap physically and functionally with land property, without any priority of access on the part of the landowner. Several of these, as well as the 1982 Electricity Law, can be used to override private land rights through a form of private eminent domain (e.g., construction of transmission lines, dams, and geothermal extraction).

PPAs are thus precariously positioned within the property regime for two reasons. First, they have no specific legal framework, and thus the institutional context could be said to be selectively laissez faire. Secondly, they face what has been characterised as an 'anticommons' problem (Heller 1998). That is, the 'bundle of rights' affecting an ecosystem is so fragmented as to make their assembly within a single conservation project extremely challenging. In effect,

the property regime assumes that interconnected ecosystems are composed of fully separable resources each of which can be mobilised through its own market. PPA owners in contrast have consistently endorsed, in individual projects and national events, the traditional goals of conservation to protect whole habitats or ecosystems. However, no PPA project that we have surveyed has been able to systematically acquire and hold rights to all resources within its boundaries. This is due to the legal and administrative complexities, the high costs of soliciting or maintaining rights, and political opposition to such consolidations. Many water rights, for example, now have a charge for non-use, and instream flows are considered non-use (Bauer 2004; Prieto and Bauer 2012). Pumalin, due to resource limitations and strategic considerations early on opted to focus on land rights and not to apply for most other rights. In addition, a commitment not to interfere with future private rights for electricity transmission and other infrastructure was a required condition of the government of Eduardo Frei in its 1997 agreement to end hostilities with Tompkins. 25 In Tantauco, an initial effort to consolidate mineral rights was abandoned due to the cost of mining concessions. The VCR has obtained most major water rights but is struggling to cover the cost of maintaining them, and has been unable to obtain mineral rights. 26 This anticommons problem has not been addressed in any of the various regulatory proposals for PPAs; to do so would run counter to the overarching logic of the property regime. In summary, the same institutional framework that allows for the emergence of PPAs ensures that they remain legally precarious and vulnerable relative to extractive uses.

Recent regulatory initiatives

By the mid-1990s, several environmental NGOs-CIPMA and CODEFF in particular-became aware of the growth and diversity of PPAs (Geisse and Sepúlveda 2000). Joined in the late-1990s by the international NGOs, WWF and TNC, these groups worked actively through workshops, demonstration projects, networks and publications to encourage the state to enact regulatory support. In recent years, the national NGOs that initially led this work have largely disappeared from view, and regulatory efforts have been joined by elements of the business sector. 27 Beginning in 1994, both the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) and the National Environmental Commission (CONAMA) proposed a variety of measures, both regulations and legislation, to fill out the national environmental law's reference to PPAs. However, none of these initiatives has met even minimal success. Moreover, none of these various attempts at legal recognition have contemplated private protection in perpetuity. Rather than a fundamental transformation in property, protected status was to be at the will of landowner and for a maximum of twenty-five years. This period was evidently modelled after the standard maximum period for property encumbrances in the country΄s Civil Code.

Major sticking points in PPA policy discussions have included the issue of appropriate tax incentives and the question of which regulatory agency they would fall under. The inability to overcome such barriers stems less from any direct opposition than from the imbrication of local neoliberal ideology within the policy framework, which has transformed such relatively simple issues into sticky problems (Tecklin et al. 2011). For example, any alteration of the tax code requires-according to the dominant interpretation-specific legislation and a high level of political consensus. Even more problematic has been the absence of a fully public regulatory agency. CONAF is a public-private hybrid, a formally private corporation with limited public authority focussed on forestry development. This arrangement has been found legally incompatible with PPA regulation by the national comptroller΄s office. Although every government since 1990 has proposed the restructuring of CONAF into a fully public entity, none has dedicated significant political investment to this goal. PPA legislation was resuscitated in 2011 by the Ministry of Environment as part of a bill to create a Biodiversity and Protected Areas Service (BPAS), which was one of Chile's commitments in accession talks for the OECD (Tecklin et al. 2011). The BPAS bill submitted by the administration of President Sebastian Piñera to the congress gave a nod to PPAs but did not address existing debates and concerns. Rather, its primary purpose was to create a framework to accelerate the use of private concessions within public PAs. 28

Two recent efforts by civil society have advanced policy discussions. The first of these centres on building a political voice through a new trade organisation for private, indigenous, and community protected areas. This organisation, Asi Conserva Chile, was founded in 2010 and now has 54 member organisations and individuals representing 33 PPAs. It has sought to both compensate for the regulatory deficit through a self-regulatory focus on norms and standards for member organisations, and to lobby collectively for state regulations and incentives. The development of a unified voice speaking through a recognised organisational repertoire has greatly boosted the political presence of PPAs (Corcuera and Tecklin 2012).

Second is a legislative effort to establish a 'derecho real de conservación,' or a real conservation property right, within the closed set of recognised property rights in Chile's Civil Code. This bill was introduced in 2008 by a bipartisan group of senators convened and backed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and several influential Chilean lawyers. As this founding group consistently broadcasted, the initiative was inspired by, and modelled after, the US conservation easement framework. The sophisticated and strategic lobbying grounded in that model secured prominent supporters on both Left and Right in the legislature. Importantly, the effort sought to avoid challenging the overall property regime. Thus, although Right-wing think tanks have expressed reservations, 29 open opposition has been rare and has not divided along partisan lines. Over the five years of debate in committees, recurrent piecemeal obstruction centred on a (redundant) need to protect mining rights and the question of how long protection would be maintained. 30 Even if passed as expected, it remains an open question whether significant numbers of PPA proponents will opt to apply the derecho real in their projects. The initiative΄s plodding success does illustrate the very high bar in terms of financial, political/geopolitical, and lobbying support required for a measure that seeks to advance-however incrementally-the right to conserve in this national context.


Multiple elements of PPA history in Chile illustrate the analytical weakness of characterising private land conservation simplistically as 'market-based'. Rather than a semantic issue, this is significant because of the accompanying assumptions about the motivations and ideological alignments in relation to PPAs. The 'market-based' characterisation further reproduces the problematic assumption, common to neoclassical economics and much critical work, that private property is equivalent to commodification. While we recognise that there are well-established tendencies to commodify private property rights in both civil law and in Anglo-American common law, private protected areas demonstrate the incompleteness of these processes. They exemplify the multivalent character of property rights, which may even be developed-whether through a common property regime or through formal legal mechanisms-primarily as a means of limiting current and future markets.

Conservation communities in particular suggest a range of tensions between private land conservation and pro-market discourses and policies. They appear to represent the kind of bottom-up creation of environmental property and markets expected by the Chicago property rights school (Demsetz 1967) and its followers in Free Market Environmentalism (Anderson and Leal 1991). In fact, the creation of shares in CCs is the closest thing to a conservation market in Chile, as they entail the creation of a new form of clearly defined and tradeable environmental property. However, on closer examination, as market mechanisms these initiatives have had very uneven and limited results. In the first place, the property rights involved, lack the commodified characteristics required for large, well functioning markets. In facing the generally recognised trade-off between the protection of complex resources and the tradeability of rights (Rose 2002; Salzman and Ruhl 2000), CCs have so far strongly opted for the former. This reflects the predominantly non-market motivations of project members, and further erodes the characterisation of such initiatives as 'market-based'. Secondly, the fact that the initial surge in CC projects in the late 1990s has slowed, suggests that this model of collective action has hit a barrier within the Chilean context. Why this has occurred is an interesting question for future research.

More broadly, the politics of private conservation in Chile illustrate a contradiction within neoliberal ideology and policy between a commitment to establishing secure and absolute individual property rights and a commitment to promoting 'free' markets for natural resources. While rigid 'absolutist' property rights are at the core of Chile's policy and constitutional model, there has been strong ideological resistance among political and business elites to the notion that these could be deployed for non-market purposes. As we have seen, this generally implicit bias surfaced as opposition to any policy proposal that would allow relatively full and/or permanent legal property protection for the environment. Thus, despite the explosion in self-declared PPAs, and their increasing legitimation in the 2000s through the involvement of national businessmen and international NGOs, PPAs remain in an institutionally precarious position, and, over twenty years after they were formally included in Chilean law, they still lack practical legal recognition. Moreover, due to considerations of political and legal viability, the many legislative and regulatory efforts aimed at advancing in this direction have all been narrowly limited in scope.

At a general level, our analysis speaks to a transdisciplinary skepticism towards the tendency to represent political economic institutions such as private property rights as if these have a singular meaning across geographic and temporal contexts (Gibson-Graham 2008; Ostrom and Cox 2010; Vayda 2009). In this sense, we suggest the need for continued exploration of a 'diverse properties' (cf. Gibson-Graham 2008; Mansfield 2008) research agenda that takes us beyond the common and simplified models of property (Blomley 2005), and documents the multiple connections between property rights and political economic thought and practice.[83]


We would like to thank Carl Bauer, Edella Schlager, Carol Rose, and Sallie Marston, as well as the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their many helpful suggestions on an earlier draft. We are also grateful to Aldo Farias for preparation of the map presented here, and to Francisco Solis, Max Bello and Alberto Tacon, and our interviewees, for the many insights and information provided over the course of this research. As usual, remaining errors in fact or interpretation are the exclusive responsibility of the authors. Research funding was provided by Chile's National Council for Research, Science and Technology (CONICYT) and the U.S. National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant No. 1129509.


Available at: some public PAs legally include adjacent marine areas, there are very few marine protected areas in Chile, and only a very few small coastal areas are under private management analogous to PPAs on land. Thus, this discussion pertains only to terrestrial areas.E.g., see debates covered in the special issue titled "Liderazgo del sector privado en la conservación del medio ambiente"of Estudios Publicos (Spring 2008, issue 112), published by the business think tank Centro de Estudios Publicos.Personal communication, Alberto Tacon, Head of Protected Areas, WWF Chile, April 23, 2013.An earlier large private reserve-Ayacara-was created by the Sandor family in 1979. However, due to its low profile, isolation, and shifting objectives this has not constituted an important point of reference for private conservation.See Aylwin and Cuadra 2011, for further discussion of the complex relationship between indigenous peoples and protected areas in Chile which we have not addressed due to space limitations.Eco-real estate projects commonly involve rural subdivisions or second-home developments integrated into private reserves. Unlike in the US and much of the global North where the land protections involved are legalised as part of local zoning and permitting, in Chile these are voluntary statements sometimes backed up by the use of private law instruments such as condominium statutes.Doug Tompkins supported the first NGO conservation land acquisition in 1990 (for the Caûi Reserve of Araucaria forest) and has had a direct role in conserving several other areas see [Table 2], some indirect role is also evident in the cases of Huinay, Karukinka, and Tantauco.To be sure, conflict around the Tompkins projects was multifaceted, and it would be a mistake to reduce this to property issues alone. It also stemmed from the alarm that his unapologetic Deep Ecology activism generated in conservative segments of the elite, his funding of vocal environmental activists, and his periodic involvement in opposition to industrial development in the south. In order to reduce conflict around his acquisitions, Tompkins reached an implicit agreement with the Chilean government not to purchase land North of the Pumalin project.This opposition goes far beyond concern that the public interest should prevail over private property rights that is commonly expressed in doctrines for eminent domain in Chile and elsewhere. The term, 'derecho a conservar', or right to conserve, has only recently entered the debate in Chile. Thanks to long-time conservation advocate Alberto Tacon for bringing the term to our attention.Bill number 17.288, on National Monuments and the Law Number 19.300, National Environmental Framework Law with the goal to regulate the maximum extension of private parks dedicated to the preservation of nature. Entered Sept 4, 2001. Available at: = 3063&prmBL = 2778-12.'Nature Sanctuary' is a legal category that places the property under the regulation of Chile's Council for National Monuments currently within the Ministry of Education. Its only significance is that it requires an environmental impact statement be completed for any major project within the sanctuary.Interviews with current and past staff at the Pumalin Foundation, March 2012. Lands already transferred to the state include over 85,000 ha to form the Corcovado National Park. The majority of the Pumalín property has been transferred to a public-private foundation with majority control by the Tompkins family.Interviews with current and past staff at the Pumalin Foundation, March 2012; interviews with representatives of The Nature Conservancy in Chile; and Board members of Asi Conserva Chile in Feb-May 2012.Statement by Minister Catalina Parot, Feb. 3, 2012.Representive examples from the news media include: De la Fuente, Antonieta. June 11, 2010, Revista Qué Pasa. "El nuevo mapa de la conservación." And 
Capital (2009) "La tierra protegida," No. 251, (April 30 to May 14, 2009).Las buenas noticias de Panguipulli. 2010. "Víctor Petermann, emprendedor: El señor de Huilo-Huilo." 24-25.E.g., see Alonso, Carla. Feb 24, 2008. La Tercera, "Piñera trabaja la mayor reforestación de bosque nativo de Chile en Parque Tantauco."Interviews with advisors to the Consejo General de Caciques Huilliches de Chiloe, March 3, 2012.E.g., see The Economist, "Saving the Ends of the Earth: Preserving Chile΄s Southern Forests." March 11, 2006.Rivas, Cristian. (2009). "Karukinka. El secreto mejor guardado." No. 246 (20 Feb to 5 March 2009).Interview with Tantauco staff, March 1, 2012, and Accessed on August 02, 2013.In this sense, 'conservation communities' have little in common with the rural communities that have been the focus of debate in conservation literature.Interview Madreselva Member, July 19, 2010.Interviews with current and ex staff of Pumalin, March 2012.Interviews with current and ex Pumalin staff, current Tantauco staff, and VCR staff, March 2012.E.g., see Estudios Publicos (2008), special issue 112.Proyecto de Ley, Crea el servicio de biodiversidad y areas silvestres protegidas y el sistema nacional de areas silvestres protegidas. January 26, 2011.Fundación Jaime Guzman, no date. Minuta proyecto de ley que establece derecho real de conservación, Boletin 5823-07.Participant observation, Constutional Committee, Senate. 3-14-2012


1Alexander, G. S. 1999. Commodity and propriety competing visions of property in American legal thought, 1776-1970. Chicago, Il: University of Chicago Press.
2Aylwin, J. and X. Cuadra. 2011. Los desafíos de la conservación en los territorios indígenas en Chile. Temuco, Chile: Observatorio de Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas.
3Anderson, T. L. and P. J. Hill. 1975. The evolution of property rights: a study of the American west. Journal of Law and Economics 18: 163-179.
4Anderson, T. L. and D. Leal. 1991. Free market environmentalism. Boulder: Westview Press.
5Bakker, K. 2010. The limits of "neoliberal natures": debating green neoliberalism. Progress in Human Geography 1-21.
6Barzel, Y. 1989. Economic analysis of property rights. New York: Cambridge University Press.
7Bauer, C. J. 1998. Against the current: privatization, water markets, and the state in Chile. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
8Bauer, C. J. 2004. Siren song: Chilean water law as a model for international reform. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future.
9Benda-Beckmann, K. 1981. Forum shopping and shopping forums: dispute processing in a Minangkabau village in West Sumatra. Journal of Legal Pluralism 19: 117-59.
10Blomley, N. 2005. Remember property? Progress in Human Geography 29: 125-127.
11Brockington, D. 2011. Ecosystem services and fictitious commodities. Environmental Conservation 38(4): 367-369.
12Brockington, D., R. Duffy and J. Igoe. 2008. Nature unbound: conservation, capitalism and the future of protected areas. London: Earthscan.
13Bromley, D. W. 1989. Economic interests and institutions: the conceptual foundations of public policy. New York: Basil Blackwell.
14Burawoy, M. 2009. The extended case method: four countries, four decades, four great transformations, and one theoretical tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press.
15Camus, P. and E. Hajek. 1998. Historia ambiental de Chile. Santiago, Chile: Universidad Católica de Chile.
16Corcuera, E., C. Sepulveda, and G. Geisse. 2002. Conserving land privately: spontaneous market for land conservation in Chile. In: selling forest environmental services: Market-based mechanisms for conservation and development (eds. S. Paggiola, J. Bishop, and N. Landell-Mills). Pp. 127−150. Washington, DC: IIED-WB.
17Corcuera, E. and D. Tecklin. 2012. Asociatividad gremial como adaptación a la precariedad institucional de la conservación en Chile: el surgimiento de Así Conserva Chile, A.G. Revista Parques 1: 9.
18Covarrubias, A. L. 2002. Parque pumalin ¿que rol le cabe al gobierno? In: Pumalín: obstáculo u oportunidad para el desarrollo (eds.
19S. Larraín and C. Stevens). Pp. 67−72. Santiago: LOM/Programa Chile Sustentable.
20Crosby, W. 2006. The challenge of developing sustainability in tierra del fuego: environmentalist contestation of the Río Cóndor forest project in Chile. Ph.D. thesis. Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.
21Dales, J. H. 1968. Pollution, property and prices. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
22Demsetz, H. 1967. Toward a theory of property rights. The American Economic Review 57: 347−359.
23Ertman, M. M. and J. C. Williams. 2005. Rethinking commodification: cases and readings in law and culture. New York: New York University Press.
24Espinoza, G. 2010. Evaluacion ambiental estrategica de apoyo al diseño del sistema nacional de areas protegidas. Santiago, Chile: Proyecto GEF-MMA-PNUD.
25Fortmann, L. 1995. Talking claims: discursive strategies in contesting property. World Development 23(6): 1053-1063.
26Geisse, G. and C. Sepúlveda. 2000. Iniciativas privadas y política pública de conservación ambiental. Ambiente y Desarrollo. 16: 6−13.
27Gibson-Graham, J. K. 2008. Diverse economies: performative practices for `other worlds'. Progress in Human Geography 32: 613−632.
28Glacken, C. J. 1967. Traces on the Rhodian shore: nature and culture in Western thought from ancient times to the end of the eighteenth century. Berkeley: University of California Press.
29Gwartney, J., R. Lawson, and J. Hall. 2011. Economic freedom of the world: 2011 annual report. Calgary, Canada: Fraser Institute.
30Harvey, D. 2005. A brief history of neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
31Hayek, F. A. 1960. The constitution of liberty. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
32Heller, M. A. 1998. The tragedy of the anticommons: property in the transition from Marx to markets. Harvard Law Review 111: 621−688.
33Heller, M. A. 1999. The boundaries of private property. Yale Law Journal 108: 116−1223.
34Heynen, N., J. McCarthy, S. Prudham, and P. Robbins. 2007. Neoliberal environments: false promises and unnatural consequences. London; New York: Routledge.
35Holmes, G. 2007. Protection, politics and protest: understanding resistance to conservation. Conservation and Society 5: 184−201.
36Horwitz, M. J. 1977. The transformation of American law, 1780-1860. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
37Igoe, J. and D. Brockington. 2007. Neoliberal conservation: a brief introduction. Conservation and Society 5(4): 432-449.
38Langholz, J. 2003. Privatizing conservation. In: Contested Nature: promoting international biodiversity with social justice in the Tweny-First Century (ed. S. R. Brechin). Pp. 117−135. New York: State University of New York Press.
39Langholz, J. A. and J. P. Lassoie. 2001. Perils and promise of privately owned protected areas. BioScience 51: 1079−1085.
40Macpherson, C. B. 1978. Property, mainstream and critical positions. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
41Maldonado, V. and R. Faundez. 2005. Actualización Base de Datos Cartográfica de Areas Silvestres Protegidas Privadas al Nivel Nacional, Informe Final. Santiago, Chile: CODEFF-CONAMA.
42Mansfield, B. 2008. Privatization: property and the remaking of nature-society relations. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
43Madsen, B., N. Carroll, and K.M. Brands. 2010. State of biodiversity markets report: offset and compensation programs worldwide. Available at: http://www.ecosystemmarketplace. com/documents/acrobat/sbdmr.pdf
44Merrill, T. W. and H. E. Smith. 2000. Optimal standardization in the law of property: the numerus clausus principle. Yale Law Journal 110: 1−70.
45Merrill, T. W. and H. E. Smith. 2001. What happened to property in law and economics? Yale Law Journal 111: 357−398.
46Mirowski, P. and D. Plehwe. 2009. The road from Mont Pelerin: the making of the neoliberal thought collective. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
47MMA. 2011. Sistematización y recopilación de información directa de dos bases de datos pertenecientes a estudios sobre las iniciativas de conservación privadas. Santiago, Chile: Ministerio de Medio Ambiente.
48OECD-CEPAL. 2005. OECD environmental performance reviews-Chile. Santiago Chile: ECLAC United Nations.
49Ostrom, E. 2005. Understanding institutional diversity. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
50Ostrom, E. 2010. Beyond markets and states: polycentric governance of complex economic systems. American Economic Review 100: 641−672.
51Ostrom, E. and M. Cox. 2010. Moving beyond panaceas: a multi-tiered diagnostic approach for social-ecological analysis. Environmental Conservation 37: 451−463.
52Pauchard, A. and P. Villarroel. 2002. Protected areas in Chile: history, current status, and challenges. Natural Areas Journal: a quarterly publication of the Natural Areas Association 22: 318−330.
53Peluso, N. L. 1992. Rich forests, poor people resource control and resistance in Java. Berkeley: University of California Press.
54Peluso, N.L. and C. Lund. 2011. New frontiers of land control: introduction. Journal of Peasant Studies 38(4): 667-681.
55Peterman, A. 2012. Reserva Bioloìgica Huilo Huilo un destino sustentable. Santiago, Chile: Asi Conserva Chile.
56Pigou, A. C. 1932. The economics of welfare. London: Macmillan.
57Pliscoff, P. and T. Fuentes-Castillo. 2011. Representativeness of terrestrial ecosystems in Chile's protected area system. Environmental Conservation 38(3): 303-311.
58Polanyi, K. 1957. The great transformation: the political and economic origins of our time. Boston: Beacon Press.
59Priest, C. 2006. Creating an American property law: alienability and its limits in American history. Harvard Law Review 120: 385−459.
60Prieto, M. and C. Bauer (2012) Hydroelectric power generation in Chile: an institutional critique of the neutrality of market mechanisms. Water International 37: 131−146.
61Radin, M. J. 1996. Contested commodities. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
62Ribot, J. C. and N.L. Peluso. 2003. A theory of access. Rural Sociology 68(2): 153-181.
63Robertson, M. M. 2006. The nature that capital can see: science, state, and market in the commodification of ecosystem services. Environment and planning D, Society and space 24(3): 367-388.
64Rose, C. M. 1994. Property and persuasion: essays on the history, theory, and rhetoric of ownership. Boulder: Westview Press.
65Rose, C.M. 2002. Common property, regulatory property, and environmental protection: Comparing community-based management to tradable environmental allowances. In: The drama of the commons (ed. National Research Council). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
66Rose, C.M. 2009. Servitudes. Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper 9(13): 1−58.
67Roth, R. J. and W. Dressler. 2012. Market-oriented conservation governance: the particularities of place. Geoforum 43(3): 363-366.
68Salzman, J. and J. B. Ruhl. 2000. Currencies and the commodification of environmental law. Stanford Law Review 53: 607−694.
69Schlager, E. and E. Ostrom. 1992. Property-rights regimes and natural resources: a conceptual analysis. Land Economics 68: 249−262.
70Scott, A. 2008. The evolution of resource property rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
71Sepúlveda, C., E. Letelier, and C. Seeberg. 2003. Incentivos apropiados para áreas protegidas privadas: el enfoque y la experiencia del Proyecto CIPMA-FMAM. In: Documento de Trabajo 58. Santiago: CIPMA.
72Sepulveda, C., P. Villarroel, A. Moreira, and D. Garcia. 1998. Catastro de iniciativas privadas en conservación de la biodiversidad en Chile. Santiago, Chile: CIPMA.
73Sierralta, L., R. Serrano, J. Rovira, and C. Corteìs. 2011. Las aìreas protegidas de Chile. Santigo, Chile: Ministerio del Medio Ambiente.
74Silva, E. 1996. Democracy, market economics, and environmental policy in Chile. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 38: 1−34.
75Solis, F. and D. Tecklin. 2007. La reserva costera valdiviana: Un aporte a las multiples estrategias de conservación en un paisaje prioritario. Ambiente y Desarrollo 21: 31−8.
76Stavins, R. 2007. Market-based environmental policies: what can we learn from U.S. experience (and related research)? In: Moving to markets in environmental regulation: lessons from twenty years of experience (eds. J. Freeman and C. Kolstad). Pp. 19−47. New York: Oxford University Press.
77Strahilevitz, L. J. 2005. The right to destroy. Yale Law Journal 114: 781−854.
78Strauss, A. L. 1987. Qualitative analysis for social scientists. New York: Cambridge University Press.
79Tecklin, D., C. Bauer, and M. Prieto. 2011. Making environmental law for the market: the emergence, character, and implications of Chile's environmental regime. Environmental Politics 20: 879-898.
80Vayda, A. P. 2009. Explaining human actions and environmental changes. Lanham, MD: Altamira Press.
81Verdery, K. 1999. Fuzzy property: rights, power, and identity in Transylvania's decollectivization. In: Uncertain transition: Ethnographies of change in the postsocialist world (eds. M. Burawoy and K. Verdery). Pp. 53-81. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
82Vergara, P. 1985. Auge y caida del neoliberalismo en chile. Santiago: FLACSO.
83Ximenez, S. 2011. Biodiversidad y desarrollo. Temas Públicos 1(5): 7−14.