Chile creates national park to save glaciers

The new National Glacier Park will cover 75,000ha of Andes mountain land about 60km from the capital Santiago. PHOTO: AFP

SANTIAGO (AFP) - Chile said on Saturday (March 5) it is creating a vast national park to protect hundreds of glaciers that are melting owing to climate change.

The new National Glacier Park will cover 75,000ha of Andes mountain land about 60km from the capital Santiago, President Sebastian Pinera said at a ceremony announcing its creation.

"We are managing to protect 368 glaciers," the president said.

These masses of permanent ice hold 32 times more water than a reservoir that serves the capital city's seven million people, the president added.

A recent study by the University of Chile said glaciers in the central part of the country, which includes the new park, are shrinking due to global warming.

Mr Pinera said establishing the park is "a fundamental step that our country is taking to combat the destruction of nature".

It will also help preserve flora native to mountain terrain and animals such as pumas and foxes.

Chile is among the world's top 10 countries as measured by glacier surface area, the government says. Others include Canada, the United States, China and Russia.

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