Chile’s largest botanical garden to expand for 100th anniversary

The 180 hectares (445 acres) of new park space will include improved tourist infrastructure, as well as new locations for the conservation of endangered plant life.

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The National Botanical Gardens of Viña del Mar will celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2018 by adding 180 ha. (445 acres) to its present extent of 32 ha. (79 acres). The growth of the park will include the creation of new spaces for botanical studies, conservation and recreation. Of the nearly US$22.5 million planned for the new expansion, some US$3 million will be committed to 60 projects planned for the first three years.

Even at their current size, Viña del Mar’s National Botanical Gardens are already larger than the other four located within Chile, in Santiago, La Serena, Talca and Valdivia respectively.

Twenty ha. (50 acres) will be designated for conservation efforts with new areas developed for the protection of endangered plant species. At the far eastern end of the park, an area used for fostering native plant growth that was until now closed to the public will also be reopened.

Improved tourism infrastructure within the park will continue the trend in the park’s popularity amongst visitors. Today, roughly 140,000 people visit the park annually, a figure that has tripled in the last three years. As part of the expansion, new picnic areas, bike paths and hiking trails will be built along with a new information center.

The Botanical Gardens occupy 32 ha. (79 acres) of the 397 ha. (981 acres) area once known as Salitre Park. The massive grounds were acquired between 1917 and 1920 by philanthropist and businessman Pascual Baburizza, who emigrated to Chile from the former Yugoslavia in 1892. The area was designed and planted in 1918 by French landscape architect Georges Dubois, who also designed Santiago’s Parque Forestal. In 1951, all of Salitre Park was turned over to the State.

Situated just outside Viña del Mar, the National Botanical Gardens are at the heart of Chile’s most populous region, home to nearly half of the country’s total population. About 1 million people live in the immediate environs of the park, which include the provinces of Valparaíso and Quillota just to the north. The more than 6 million inhabitants of the Metropolitan Region, which includes the city of Santiago and its surrounding municipalities, are also within easy reach of the Gardens, no more than two hours away on public transit.