We are a non-profit organization that obtained legal status in 2009 by decree of the Ministry of Justice. In the passing of the state budget of the previous year the decree stated that this foundation would be created to continue leading the implementation of the public environmental education program and “Sendero de Chile” ecotourism, until then executed directly by the former National Commission of the Environment (CONAMA) from 2001.
Our dream was born on May 21st, 2000 when former President Ricardo Lagos gave his first speech before Congress. Planning for the bicentennial celebration of Chilean independence in 2010, he invited Chileans to construct a path that traversed the country (6,500 km) that would be able to be crossed by foot, horse, or bicycle and allow citizen access to knowledge and enjoyment the natural and cultural heritage of Chile.
In 2006, 38 sections of Sendero de Chile had been authorized, accounting for 1,500 km of the projected route. However, some problems loomed: 65% of the projected route passed through private property whose owners did not know of the initiative nor valued its potential benefits. It was also not clear who would be responsible for the trail once it was constructed nor who would handle risks associated with the safety of people, property, or natural goods of the areas. These issues arose from a judicial and institutional system that considers public roads only as those that can be transversed by motorized vehicles, thus excluding pedestrian trails for basic support and ineligible to be considered a public work or treated as a national good for public use.
Faced with these difficulties, the initiative of Sendero de Chile had to change its implementation strategy to advance the objective of connecting citizens with nature and natural and cultural heritage by substituting its initial priority of creating new trails to promoting hiking as a tool of ecotourism and environmental education on existing trails. In this context, Sendero de Chile was born.