March 02, 2022 #ChileSustentable

Conservation from Arica to Magallanes: Chile's 10 Biosphere Reserves

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From north to south, in Chile there are a dozen wonderful biosphere reserves, protected areas made up mostly of National Parks and Reserves. What are their characteristics? They are part of UNESCO's "Man and the Biosphere" program, and are areas of terrestrial and coastal ecosystems that promote solutions to reconcile conservation and biodiversity with their sustainable use. These beautiful landscapes abound in rivers, lakes, native forests and species that only develop in Chile, over more than 11 million hectares, of which nearly 3 million correspond to marine areas.

By Andrea Obaid

  1. Lauca Biosphere Reserve

It is the northernmost biosphere reserve in Chile, located in the Region of Arica and Parinacota. It is formed by the Lauca National Park, the Las Vicuñas National Reserve and the Salar de Surire Natural Monument. It stands out for the variety of Andean flora and fauna and for its altiplanic geography, with altitudes between 3,200 and 6,342 meters above sea level. In addition, within the area there are Aymara inhabitants, one of the 10 original peoples recognized in Chile, with 10,000 years of antiquity. The most attractive places in the park are the Parinacota, Pomerape, Guallatiri and Acotango volcanoes. Also the Chungará Lake, the Payachatas snow-capped mountains and the Tambo de Chungará archeological site.

  1. Bosque Fray Jorge Biosphere Reserve

It is located in the Coquimbo Region and its main characteristic is the green forests that grow next to the desert. This park stands out for being the first Starlight site in South America and the fourth in the world, for its skies without light pollution, ideal for astronomical observation. It has two trails for visitors: one is the "Hydrophilic Forest Trail" of 1,000 meters, where you can see the semi-arid ecosystem to the Valdivian type forest that is kept alive by the "Camanchaca" or coastal fog, and the other is the "Path for people with disabilities" of 140 meters, which can be traveled in a wheelchair.

  1. La Campana - Peñuelas Biosphere Reserve

It is composed of La Campana National Park and Peñuelas National Reserve in the Valparaíso Region. It is divided into three sectors: Granizo, Cajón Grande and Palmas de Ocoa. The most popular trails are the "Sendero del Andinista", the "Circuito el Guanaco" and "La Cascada". The site has been of scientific interest for mining use since 1989 because of its six mineral deposits associated with the volcano-sedimentary rocks of the Lo Prado geological formation. In 1834 the English naturalist Charles Darwin visited it and reached the summit of La Campana hill. It also stands out for the "Palmar de Ocoa", one of the last natural forests of Chilean palm, an endemic species.

  1. Juan Fernandez Archipelago Biosphere Reserve

Located in the Valparaíso Region, but 667 kilometers from the continental coast, it is composed of the islands of Santa Clara, Alejandro Selkirk and Robinson Crusoe. The protected area includes the marine parks "Montes Submarinos Crusoe", "Lobería Selkirk", "El Arenal", "Tierra Blanca" and "El Palillo". With this geographical and natural exceptionality coexist the 500 people who live in the towns of San Juan Bautista and Bahía de Cumberland. The Juan Fernandez archipelago is the area of the world with the greatest diversity of endemic species per square meter, something that is even registered as a Guinness record.

  1. Nevados de Chillán and Laguna del Laja Biological Corridor Biosphere Reserve

Located in the Biobío Region, it is made up of the Laguna del Laja National Park and the Ñuble and Huemules de Nibinto National Reserves. It is very important because there are several vulnerable ecosystems, such as the sclerophyllous forest of the central zone and the southern temperate forest. It is home to more than 41 endemic plant species, such as the Cordillera Cypress and Araucaria Araucana. There are more than 40 types of fauna, among them condors, huemules, the colocolo cat and the Magellanic woodpecker, which are in danger of extinction. Inside there are three natural attractions: the Laja River, the Antuco Volcano and the Laja Lagoon.

  1. Araucarias Biosphere Reserve

This reserve, located in the Araucanía Region, groups together territories from 10 protected wild areas: the Conguillío, Huerquehue, Tolhuaca and Villarrica national parks and the Alto Biobío, Malleco, Malalcahuello, Villarrica, Nalcas and China Muerta national reserves. Its main characteristic is the presence of the species that gives it its name: the Araucaria Milenaria, which can live up to 1,800 years. In addition, it is possible to find species of mammals such as pudúes and guanacos. You can observe the Llaima volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in South America, and the Lonquimay, Sierra Nevada and Nevados de Sollipulli volcanoes, following various routes that are part of the Kütralkura Geopark, the first in Chile with 35 geological sites of interest.

  1. Southern Andes Temperate Rainforest Biosphere Reserve

This area of 2.2 million hectares is the second largest biosphere reserve in Chile, and is considered one of the largest and most ecologically intact forested areas in the world. Located in the Los Ríos and Los Lagos regions, it is made up of five national parks (Puyehue, Villarrica, Vicente Pérez Rosales, Alerce Andino and Hornopirén) and three national reserves (Mocho Choshuenco, Llanquihue and Hornopirén). Close to the border with Argentina, both countries signed an agreement in 2006 for the creation of a Binational Reserve, joining the Chilean and Argentinean Andean-North Patagonian Biosphere Reserves. Thus, a transboundary protected area of 4.5 million hectares was created.

  1. Laguna San Rafael Biosphere Reserve

Located in the Aysén Region, it has an area of 1.7 million hectares, which makes it one of the largest biosphere reserves in Chile. Of its total area, about 400,000 hectares correspond to the millenary ice of the Northern Ice Fields. Also within the park is Mount San Valentín, with a height of 4,058 meters above sea level, and the San Rafael glacier and lagoon. There are tours of the ice in small boats, from where it is possible to observe the huge blocks of ice detach from the snowdrift and fall into the lagoon.

  1. Torres del Paine Biosphere Reserve

It is located in the Region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, this place is known worldwide for its exuberant natural beauty among mountains, glaciers and rivers. You can make several circuits, the most popular are the Paine Massif and the W Trail. Other alternatives for walking are the trail to the Mirador Cuernos, on the shores of Lake Nordenskjöld, trails around the Salto Grande and Salto Chico, and circuits to the Island and the Chorrillo de los Salmones in the area of the Lago Grey Nursery.

  1. Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve

Located in the extreme south of Chile, on Navarino Island in the Magallanes Region, it has been awarded as one of the 100 greenest destinations in the world. Its main attraction is the Omora Ethnobotanical Park, where you can see the "miniature forests", real jungles of lichens and other forms of vegetation that can be admired and studied with magnifying glasses. With 4.8 million hectares, it is the largest biosphere reserve in the country, formed by the Alberto de Agostini and Cabo de Hornos National Parks. It stands out for the protection of fauna species such as the leopard seal, dolphins, whales, sea lions and chungungos, and for trekking to the Dientes de Navarino massif.




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