The amazing phenomenon of the Fray Jorge Forest

In the middle of the Coquimbo Region, the Fray Jorge Forest surprises for its unique ecosystem and a flora that could be from the south of Chile.

Pablo Rodríguez | Flickr
Pablo Rodríguez | Flickr

Placed in the Limarí Province, and only a few kilometers from the city of Ovalle, you can find one of the most peculiar and rare forest of our country. Being very dense, the Fray Jorge Forest grows in one of the regions that form the north of our country, a desertic cost that contrasts to the natural climate of a forest.

The origins of this place go back to the last ice age. The unity was a part of what it is know as the Valdivian temperate rain forest, which today are found mostly in the south of Chile. Due to diverse climate changes, the characteristics of the region started to change and the forest disappeared, but for some reason more than 9.000 hectare in the Coquimbo Region where preserved almost untouched and apart from the rest of the forests.

This particular phenomenon finds its explanation mainly in the influence of the Humboldt current and its winds that provoke condensation in the coastal fog; the commonly known “camanchaca”. This fog travels from the cost and falls over the forest, creating a humid environment that allows the development and survival of its flora and fauna.

The vegetation of this unity is formed by the typical trees and plants of this kind of forests. So it is easy to find specimens of olivillo, canelo, Chilean myrtle, ferns and climbing plants; but what calls the most attention of visitors are the copihues that can be found under tree branches. The fauna of the forest stands out by the presence of more than 80 bird species, and different types of mammals, such as the Andean fox, chingue, quiques and small marsupials.

Bhasker Hariharan | Flickr

Bhasker Hariharan | Flickr

In 1941 this area became the Fray Jorge Forest National Park, during the presidential period of Juan Antonio Ríos. This was decided with the purpose of preserving and taking care of this unique ecosystem. Today, it is in charge of the CONAF.

The conservation of this forest not only has been of interest for national organizations, in 1977 it was declared a Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO. This category was assigned to it due to its relevance in the scientific, educative and human fields.

This post is also available in Spanish