In a world where no territory remains undiscovered, The Wilderness Archive seeks to exist in places where wilderness still prevails, humanity existing on its fringes. We are actively exploring locations and new partner organisations that can host future archives, spaces operating at the boundary with wilderness. This could be desert, mountain, forest, coast or island, each with its own unique geography, ecosystem and conservation challenges.
In addition to our pilot project currently ongoing in Chile, we are in contact with prospective hosts in the south of Italy, Colombia, Alaska and Brazil. Active research is also ongoing in south eastern Spain, Pacific islands, the Philippines, Borneo, South Korea and China.
The Wilderness Archive is a distributed resource with no centre or headquarters. Each Archive will function as a dynamic and accessible resource in its own right, while also forming part of the global Wilderness Archive network where overarching questions relating to the interaction between nature and humanity can be explored in their local, national and global contexts.
As an internationally situated project, we are always on the look out for new locations where more can be learned through a dialogue between wilderness and humanity. Please reach out if you would like to host an archive or suggest a location.
The first edition of the Wilderness Archive is currently being developed in collaboration with Fundación Mar Adentro, our co-commissioners and host in Chile. We are building the first archive in a forest managed by the Foundation called Bosque Pehuén, in the Araucanía region.
Despite the fact that the central Araucanía of southern Chile is the most biodiverse and endemic area of the country, it has undergone the greatest transformation and remains Chile’s least protected natural region. This area of Chile, previously belonging to the Mapuche people, is still home to indigenous populations whose cultural legacy and contemporary perspective will be integral to the development of the archive.
Bosque Pehuén (Pehuén Forest) is a private, protected area comprising 882 hectares of old and secondary forest. Oak, raulí, coigüe, and araucaria up to 700 years old grow in the conserved space, situated between Volcán Villarrica and Volcán Quetrupillán. The forest is named after the araucaria trees that grow within; called ‘pehuén’ in Mapudungun, the Mapuche language. Unique and threatened species living in the reserve include Darwin’s frog and the monito del monte (also known as ‘little monkey of the bush’), a marsupial native to Chile and parts of Argentina believed to be the only extant species of the Microbiotheria order. Pumas, foxes, woodpeckers and many bird species also inhabit the forest.
The conservation site of Bosque Pehuén is dedicated to the protection of biodiversity and the development of scientific knowledge and research. Bosque Pehuén was formed by Fundación Mar Adentro in 2006 under the premise that to conserve, one must first understand. It was conceived as an open-air laboratory for research, with the aim of generating multidisciplinary and innovative models of conservation through the link between scientific research, art and education, and outreach activities.
Bosque Pehuén has undergone great transformation as it was previously in part a managed forest, making it particularly suited to connect and combine scientific, socio-political and cultural perspectives and achieve a more holistic understanding of its ecosystem. As such, the Wilderness Archive can also encourage other organisations that share similar conservation concerns to look anew at how they make sense of the areas they are working hard to protect.
We are especially grateful to the Fundación Mar Adentro for all their work, ideas and support whilst developing with us the first prototype archive.
Image and information about Bosque Pehuén courtesy of © Fundación Mar Adentro