Lucas Chiappe

Ashoka Fellow
Cushamen, Chubut, Argentina
Fellow Since 1996


This profile was prepared when Lucas Chiappe was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Through Project Lemu, a nongovernmental initiative that he has long headed, Lucas Chiappe has launched a successful grassroots campaign in the southern cone of Latin America to protect and restore ancient forests, watersheds and such life support systems as clean air, water and soil. Lucas' innovative idea is to create an International Sanctuary for Sub-Antarctic forests, south of Parallel 40, starting in the Patagonian region of Argentina. The proposed sanctuary will eventually encompass the relevant areas of Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, and Australia-the four countries with sub-Antarctic temperate forests.

The initial aim of Project Lemu is to link native Patagonian forests, from the northern border of Lanin National Park in the province of Neuquén to the southern border of Los Alerces National Park in the province of Chubut. This corridor will create a protected area spanning four national parks (Lanin, Nahuel Huapi, Lago Puelo and Los Alerces), two provincial parks (Cerro Pirque and Río Turbio), and a recently declared protected area (Río Azul).

Despite the complex mechanisms that must be activated locally and internationally in order to realize his long-term dream, Lucas' work in Patagonia provides clear and concrete evidence of his determination and ability to achieve ambitious goals. After years of pressuring the various local governments, Project Lemu succeeded in creating the two provincial parks and protected area mentioned above. To do so, Lucas and his team employed a number of innovative strategies, including media campaigns (TV spots, radio programs, newspaper articles, publications, etc.), environmental education and teacher training programs, political lobbying, the creation of native tree nurseries and reforestation projects in every municipality and citizens' petition campaigns. A key factor in the success of that undertaking was the creation of independent, self-sustaining local groups who work to spread the ideas at the grassroots level. And the overall result was broad support for his initiative from a wide array of government agencies and nongovernmental organizations.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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