Protected regions

1.4 m acres in central Chile named UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve

The area will become the tenth such reserve in Chile, selected for its great diversity of endemic plant and animal species.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011  
The Nevados de Chillán. (Photo: Moni_Caco/Flickr) The Nevados de Chillán. (Photo: Moni_Caco/Flickr)
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A tenth region was officially added to the list of Chilean UNESCO Biosphere Reserves at a meeting in Dresden, Germany held between June 28 and July 1.

The newly protected area, the Nevados de Chillán-Laguna del Laja Biological Corridor, covers nearly 1.4 million acres (565,000 ha) running along the eastern frontier of Chile’s Bio Bio Region, where the Mediterranean climate of the central valley transitions into the lush temperate rainforests that characterize much of Chile’s south.

Like Chile’s other Biosphere reserves, the Chillán Corridor includes two national parks and one national reserve as well as previously unprotected land surrounding them. The area was selected for its outstanding biodiversity, including 81 endemic plant and animal species, including iconic condors and the endangered Andean deer species, the huemul.

Unlike other park regions that focus entirely on preservation of natural habitats, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves include populated regions and are meant to encourage sustainable development amongst them to foster greater cooperation between human populations and their natural environments.

A key region in Chile’s large agricultural and forestry industries, the Chillán corridor has now been marked with what Pedro Araya, coordinator of Biosphere Reserves for the National Forestry Commission (CONAF) describes as “a green stamp…which can increase investment and tourism.”

The Chillán corridor was one of 18 total regions added to the list of World Biosphere Reserves this year. The other reserves added this year include regions of Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North America, with four of the reserves becoming the first ever named in their respective countries.

In Chile, the new reserves joins some of the country’s most celebrated natural landmarks on the list of Biosphere Reserves.  Regions like the Juan Fernandez Archipelago, Torres del Paine, Laguna San Rafael, Cape Horn, the lagoons, volcanoes and villages of Parque Conguillío in the Araucanía Region, and the high Andean jewels in the vicinity of Parque Lauca are already included on the Biosphere Reserve list, making Chile the third-most represented country in the region, following Mexico and Argentina.