On September 6, 2023, Law No. 21,600 was published in the Official Gazette, creating the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Service, whose objective is the conservation of biological diversity and the protection of the country’s natural heritage, through the preservation, restoration and sustainable use of genes, species and ecosystems.
The main novelties are as follows:
A. Creation of the National Biodiversity and Protected Areas Service (SBAP), a public body, functionally decentralized and territorially deconcentrated into regional directorates, with legal personality and its own assets, whose functions are established in Article 5 of the Law.
B. Within the instruments for biodiversity conservation, it highlights the set of protected areas, State and private, terrestrial and aquatic, marine, continental and insular, and classifies them into 6 categories of protection:
– Virgin Region Reserve;
– National Park;
– Natural Monument;
– National Reserve;
– Multiple Use Conservation Area;
– Indigenous Peoples Conservation Area.
C. SBAP’s sanctioning power:
1. Violations of the Law, as established in Articles 115 and 116, shall be administratively sanctioned by SBAP, differentiating between very serious, serious or minor.
The sanctions include the possibility of imposing fines, total or partial restitution of the benefits obtained, extinction or expiration of the concession or permit, temporary prohibition to enter protected areas, and the provision of services for the benefit of one of these areas, all according to the magnitude of the infraction, considering the criteria indicated in the Law.
2. The corresponding penalties for infringement shall be without prejudice to the civil or criminal liability that may affect the offender.
D. Current protected areas:
1. Marine parks, national parks, national tourism parks, natural monuments, marine reserves, national reserves, forest reserves, nature sanctuaries, marine and coastal protected areas, national protected properties, and wetlands of international importance or Ramsar sites created up to the date of publication, are understood to be part of the SNAP.
2.Marine reserves, nature sanctuaries and national protected properties existing at the date of publication must undergo a process of homologation to the categories of protection, within 5 years from the entry into operation of the SBAP.
E. Management plans for the conservation of threatened ecosystems:
1. The Service will elaborate management plans for threatened ecosystems or part of them.
2. The application of these plans may affect projects or activities that have an Environmental Qualification Resolution, in which case they must be submitted to the review procedure contemplated in Article 25 quinquies of Law No. 19,300, if applicable.
F. Concessions or contracts prior to the creation of a protected area:
1. They will continue in force until the moment their relocation is carried out, except for non-compliance with the special rules that govern them, which will produce the expiration of the concession or termination of the contract.
2. The same applies to contracts entered into with the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), understanding the SBAP as its legal successor.
3. The creation of a protected area will not hinder the development of activities that, within said area, have a favorable environmental qualification resolution.
G. Entry into force:
1. The functions and attributions of the SBAP will come into effect from its “entry into operation”, for which the President of the Republic is empowered to dictate the necessary norms within one year.
2. The functions and attributions of the SBAP with respect to the management of the SNAP, administration of the State’s protected areas and supervision of the administration of private protected areas, will come into effect three years after the SBAP becomes operational, when they apply to State protected areas in the categories of National Park, National Reserve and Natural Monument.
3. The regulations referred to in this Law must be issued within two years of its publication.