Image credit: Algarrobo Digital
New construction on Algarrobo beaches could jeopardize key ecosystems for climate change mitigation
The Observatorio de la Costa conducted technical-scientific observations for the Punta de Fraile and Hotel Vista Pacifico projects in the coastal area of the commune located in the Valparaiso Region.
The natural vegetation in the Punta de Fraile sector has been defined as a green space to mitigate the current and future challenges posed by climate change. However, as has been reported in the press, a real estate project of nine buildings is being proposed for this sector of the municipality of Algarrobo, which pits the private sector against the organized coastal community in this well-known seaside resort in central Chile.
An analysis conducted by researchers from the Observatorio de la Costa and researchers from the Centro de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada del Riesgo de Desastres, CIGIDEN, made a series of observations for this project, concluding that the intervention of the ecosystem in this sector increases the vulnerability of the coast to natural events such as earthquakes and tsunamis.
“Although the configuration of Punta Fraile does not allow the impact of a tsunami according to SHOA modeling (2018) in a seismic-tsunamigenic scenario similar to that of 1730, much of the area is below the 30 meters level (area to evacuate in case of tsunami) according to data from ONEMI (2019), Therefore, it is not recommended to increase exposure by means of buildings”, warns geographer Simón Insunza, holder of the observation delivered to the Municipality of Algarrobo by the CIGIDEN researcher.
Image credit: Punta Fraile Defense
The area, also known as La Puntilla, is an area of great natural wealth, located in front of the nature sanctuary Islote Pájaros Niño, home to colonies of Humboldt penguins in front of El Canelo and Canelillo beaches. “Therefore, we are talking about valuable ecosystems that we cannot continue to alter because we would be affecting numerous species of migratory birds. We suggest, therefore, more protection and conversion of Punta Fraile to an urban park”, complements Dr. Carolina Martinez, director of the Observatorio de la Costa Foundation, UC academic and researcher CIGIDEN – SECOS.
In addition to the Punta Fraile situation, there is also the risk generated by the construction project of the VistaPacífico Hotel, a project that was also analyzed by researchers from the Coastal Observatory. The hotel, which will be located in the coastal sector of the urban center of the commune, specifically on Carlos Alessandri Avenue, is located in an area exposed to natural hazards, in this case a tsunami, which increases the risk of disaster “with the probability of damage and human and economic losses due to the occurrence of an event of this type,” says the scientific report.
The Vista Pacifico project is located on a marine terrace less than 10 meters above sea level, and is therefore located in a tsunami precautionary area. “Any area below 30 meters above sea level can be affected by an event of this type (ONEMI, 2017). Added to this is the fact that the projected buildings as the excavation area of the project are located less than 10 meters from the axis of the Los Claveles creek, an area that favors the entry of water in case of tsunamis, increasing the risk of this kind of events,” the UC geographer specifies.