The growth of cities and industries can harm ecosystems and damage the environment. Fortunately, there are areas in the planet that contribute to the conservation of ecosystems and natural resources. Eight of these areas are in Chile and are considered part of the Unesco World Network of Biosphere Reserves.
Lauca National Park
Declared a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve in 1981, it is located in Parinacota, Putre municipality, and covers a surface area of 137,883 hectares. It includes sectors of the Andean foothills and the high plains in the Tarapacá Region with 130 species of birds, in addition to llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, guanacos and vizcachas. Lake Chungará, one of the highest in the world at 4,517 m, is 19 km away and inhabited by beautiful flamingos, with twin volcanoes as a backdrop.
Fray Jorge Forest National Park
Declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 1977, it is located in the Coquimbo Region, 150 km from La Serena. Its main characteristic is that it is a wet Valdivia-type forest typical of the southern part of the country, an veritable oddity in the middle of the coastal desert. One is invited to observe the wildlife and to practice ecotourism.
La Campana National Park and Lake Peñuelas
With a surface are of 8,000 hectares, the La Campana National Park is in the Coastal Mountain Range, in the municipalities of Olmué and Hijuelas, Valparaiso Region. It contains a forest of Chilean Palm, a species in danger of extinction. Lake Peñuelas is also in the Valparaiso Region and forms a 9,260 hectare reserve. It contains forests of quillay, peumo and litre, among other species of Chilean fauna, in addition to a variety of wildlife, such as foxes, chinchillas, coypus, herons and Harris hawks, as well as attracting a vast diversity of waterfowl to the area. The park and lake were declared a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve in 1984.
This tree was declared a Unesco World Reserve in 1983. More than covering an area, it specifically refers to the Araucaria (Monkey Puzzle Tree), a native tree that is most particularly found in the Araucanía Region, especially in the Conguillío National Park and in the Upper Bio Bio. This is a region with abundant rainfall and the species is a kind of tall pine whose crown looks like an umbrella. In Mapundungún, the language of the Mapuche people, the tree is called a pehuén and is highly valued for its seeds, pine nuts that are part of the regular diet of the native people.
Conguillío precisely means water with pine nuts and the forest also contains mountain cypresses, Andean pepper trees, lenga and raulí, all in surroundings with birds of prey like condors and red-tailed falcons, as well as diverse excursion trails where one can frequently seen vizcachas or mountain monkeys [small native marsupials]cross one’s path.
Laguna San Rafael National Park
Declared a Unesco World Biosphere Reserve in 1979, it is located in the Aysén Region and is the largest one in southern Chile, as it includes the Northern Ice Fields. The highest summit of the southern Andes is in this park: Mount San Valentín, at 4,058 meters high. The beauty of the floating icebergs and glaciers, in addition to the view of the coigüe forests of Chiloé, is impressive. The wildlife is characterized by the variety of wild ducks, seagulls, cormorants, herons, penguins, and the romantic black-necked swan.
Torres del Paine National Park
Declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 1978, it is located 400 km from Punta Arenas, Magallanes Region. Imposing and silent, the Torres del Paine are millennial black volcanic spikes crowned by glaciers. The landscape is unique in the world and is reflected in the waters of lakes that take on the colors of native precious stones. The microclimate at the edge of the lakes is ideal for wild flora and fauna, which receive trekking fanatics from around the world.
Cape Horn Austral Reserve
It is in the Magallanes Region and the Chilean Antarctica. It covers a total of 4,9 million hectares, of which 1,9 million are on land and 3.0 are in the sea. It includes the Alberto de Agostini and Cape Horn National Parks. This is where the southernmost forest ecosystem in the world is located, along with the inter-ocean pass that connects the Pacific Ocean with the most remote Atlantic. The Unesco declared it a World Biosphere Reserve in 2005.