Photographer Antonio Vizcaino spent weeks walking and flying over Monte Leon National Park, Argentina’s first park protecting its spectacular Atlantic coastline and Conservacion Patagonica’s first park project. The landscapes he captured resemble abstract paintings: tidal pools become dynamic circles of micro-life, rock outcroppings fingers poke into vivid seas, kelp and seaweed form patterns of regular chaos, retreating tides leave long streaks across colored sands. Scale becomes difficult to determine, as recognizable natural features disappear. Instead of discerning standard elements of landscapes, we see color fields and irregular patterns.
Now, a photo-format book presents these spectacular images, alongside a collection of essays telling the remarkable story behind the birth of this new national park. Published by The Conservation Land Trust (“CLT”—Conservacion Patagonica’s sister foundation), Monte Leon National Park represents the second in a series of photo-format books on national park in Chile and Argentina. Over decades of conservation work, CLT has found that for all that most of us enjoy and appreciate national parks, few understand how these parks came to exist. The hope is that sharing these creation stories, told directly by the individuals involved, may catalyze others to take action.
In an era of big screens, CLT continues to print these volumes to showcase and dignify this value, allowing parks to influence beyond their boundaries through targeted distribution to politicians, thought-leaders, and philanthropists in Chile and around the world. Essays from diverse perspectives illustrate the myriad benefits that national parks provide to humans, wildlife, and ecosystems. The legendary conservation biologist William Conway sketches out Patagonia’s natural and human history, while Argentina’s Minister of Tourism Enrique Meyer recalls his commitment to the project as a source of revenue from ecotourism in neighboring communities.
Meanwhile, Vizcaino’s spectacular photos lead us to contemplate: who truly is the artist here? On this coastline that inspired Charles Darwin a century and a half ago, the forces of evolution and geological movement themselves paint masterpieces, in a constant state of flux. Nature is not merely beautiful: in Monte Leon’s case, it seems to create art. We are proud to have played a role in protecting these 155,000 spectacular acres, and magical 25 miles of coastline.